What is Disease X?

Forget about preparing for zombie outbreaks. We should all be preparing for Disease X instead. Each year the WHO meets to create a list of diseases that pose a serious international public health risk “because of their epidemic potential and for which there are no, or insufficient, countermeasures.”

Many of the diseases listed are routine players, such at Ebola, Lassa Fever, SARS, and Zika. But this year, the WHO added “Disease X.” According to the WHO, “Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease…”

John-Arne Rottingen, a scientific adviser to the WHO committee says:

“Disease X could be be sparked by a zoonotic disease – one that jumps from animals to humans – and then spreads to become an epidemic or pandemic in the same way H1N1 Swine flu virus did in 2009…As the ecosystem and human habitats change there is always the risk of disease jumping from animals to humans. It’s a natural process and it is vital that we are aware and prepare. It is probably the greatest risk.”

So what does the WHO recommend? Sure, worrying helplessly might seem fun, but they suggest better diagnostics, existing drugs & vaccine improvements, and more research.They do not explicitly suggest a zombie preparedness kit, but you could certainly use your imagination for what Disease X may turn out to be, and plan accordingly.

The End of the World!

The WHO will probably raise the alert level to PHASE 6 soon.  This is very exciting, if for no other reason than it is the highest rating on the scale , and that is always an exciting landmark to have reached.  BUT- WHO chief Margaret Chan says:

“Level 6 does not mean, in any way, that we are facing the end of the world. It is important to make this clear because (otherwise) when we announce level 6 it will cause an unnecessary panic…Flu viruses are very unpredictable, very deceptive … We should not be over-confident. One must not give H1N1 the opportunity to mix with other viruses. That is why we are on alert.”

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