'Disease X': The Mystery Malady That Could One Day Kill Millions

Pandemic medical worker and skulls

GETTY PANDEMIC Disease X has been added to list of potential killer diseases

John-Arne Rottingen of the Research Council of Norway tells the Telegraph that "history tells us that it is likely the next big outbreak will be something we have not seen before".

It added Disease X to the rundown after a yearly survey completed from February 6-7, cautioning that there is a "pressing need" for quickened innovative work for the maladies on the rundown.

World Health Organization said existing drugs and vaccines need further improvement for several of the diseases considered but not included in the priority list.

There is a new member of the World Health Organization's (WHO) infamous list of the leading infectious diseases.

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Each year the Geneva-based organisation, which is charged with monitoring and safeguarding world health, convenes a high-level meeting of senior scientists to list diseases that pose a serious risk of prompting a major global public health emergency.

"Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious global epidemic could be caused by a pathogen now unknown to cause human disease".

"It may seem unusual to be adding an 'X, ' but the point is make sure we prepare and plan flexibly in terms of vaccines and diagnostic tests", Rottingen told the newspaper.

The objective behind including "Disease X" as the 9th disease is not to scare everyone, but to spur public health officials into action to prepare for every infectious disease threat.

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For numerous other diseases discussed, including Zika, Rift Valley fever (RVF) and Nipah and henipaviral diseases, the organisation suggested that health experts need to focus on better diagnostics. The use of chemical weapons is on the rise now, and sometimes, an act of terror may introduce the unknown pathogen to the humankind.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that a mysterious, yet to be named pathogen could kill millions of people worldwide. Ebola is also a zoonosis.

He said animal-human illnesses were called "zoonotic diseases" and become an epidemic when they happen and added: "It is vital that we are aware and prepare". "It is probably the greatest risk", said Mr Rottingen.

The WHO hopes to improve disease surveillance and the capacity of local health systems, which would help to detect an outbreak quickly.

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