Disease X, the Mysterious Pathogen that Could Cause an Epidemic

 

logo of the world health organization

The WHO is warning health authorities about the possible appearance of a so-called Disease X.

 

Bad news keeps on coming following the recent addition to The World Health Organization’s list of nine diseases that may cause an epidemic: disease X. It seems that Zika and Ebola were not enough. Now, we have a new and nonexistent deadly pathogen that experts called the “known unknown”.

 

 

They think that a biological mutation could create it, just like it did with HIV or the Spanish Flu. Also, a terror attack or an accident might spawn it as well. According to the WHO, disease X is the name given to the knowledge that one day, an unknown pathogen could cause a massive international epidemic.  

 

With the addition of this nonexistent pathogen to a list of eight other known diseases, WHO wants to acknowledge the fact that infectious diseases are incredibly unpredictable and dangerous. The organization does not want to scare people, but to prepare health officials for every possible threat out there, not just the common ones.

 

According to WHO adviser Marion Koopmans, as the world develops, humans and animals are becoming more connected. Because of this, new maladies will inevitably emerge. Apart from this, modern trade and travel facilitate the development of new diseases.  

 

The Mysterious Disease X 

 

As for how this mysterious malady could spread, the WHO thinks that it could be through a deliberate release as a weapon or a terror attack. This could be done by either terrorist organizations or rogue states famous for using chemical weapons.

 

It’s now much easier to develop biological weapons through modern technologies like gene editing and supercomputers. During the Cold War, the USSR and the US experimented with biological weapons, but technology didn’t help too much back then.  

 

For example, just last week, a mysterious nerve agent was used in an assassination attempt on a Russian and his daughter who were reportedly spies for the British.  

 

Image source: Wikimedia 

Authors

*

Top