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Disease X, A New Disease Similar To COVID-19 And Ebola: Everything You Need To Know

Since the early 19th century, scientists have warned the world of climate change and one of its extreme consequences is the rising number of diseases. Climate change alters how humans relate to other species on Earth, which has been shown to have a direct link to our health and our risk for infections.

While going into the core of the topic could deem scientifically complex, it is critical to understand the linkage of climate change and the emergence of new diseases. During the primary months of the coronavirus outbreak itself, health experts from all over the globe had warned that this could just be the tip of the iceberg and much worse diseases and infections are yet to spring out [1][2].

As the world attempts to get back to normalcy, with the vaccinations and social guidelines, life may not just go back to how it was in the pre-covid era that easily. With the development of reported mutations in the novel coronavirus and warnings issued from scientists about the possibility of various other outbreaks in the future, there is a sense of widespread uncertainty around the globe [3][4].

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In a recent report, the scientist who discovered Ebola (1976), Professor Jean-Jacques Muyembe Tamfum warned that the world could be hit by a new deadly virus 'Disease X', a disease that is fast-spreading like the COVID-19 and as deadly as the Ebola virus [5].

What Is Disease X?

Professor Jean-Jacques Muyembe Tamfum said that here are new and potentially fatal viruses emerging from Africa's tropical rainforests [6]. Disease X is not a specific disease but represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease. In Disease X, the X stands for unexpected, that is, a disease that has the possibility to emerge unexpectedly and that poses an elevated level of risk in the current COVID-19 times.

The WHO defines Disease X as, "hypothetical, but scientists fear it could lead to the destruction around the world if and when it occurs."

The WHO has declared the Disease X to be a priority disease, which also includes disease such as COVID-19, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, Ebola virus disease and Marburg virus disease, Lassa fever, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Nipah and henipaviral diseases, Rift Valley fever and Zika [7].

The future pandemics could be worse than COVID-19 and could be more apocalyptic, the Professor added.

How Was Disease X 'Discovered'?

Doctors in the Democratic Republic of the Congo received a case where the patient was showing early symptoms of haemorrhagic fever. The patient has already undergone a test for Ebola. The possibility of the emergence of a Disease X rose when the test results of the patient for Ebola came back negative.

According to various reports, Disease X could spread as fast as COVID-19 but has Ebola's 50 to 90 per cent fatality rate [8]. The professor also warned of many more zoonotic diseases, those that jump from animals to humans to come.

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Experts have linked the rising number of emerging viruses to the destruction of animal's habitats and wildlife trade [9]. In addition, experts pointed out that new species of viruses are being discovered at a rate of three to four a year [10].

The professor further said, "If a pathogen emerged from Africa it will take time to spread all over the world. So, if this virus is detected early -- like in my institution where -- there will be an opportunity for Europe [and the rest of the world] to develop new strategies to fight these new pathogens [11]."

On A Final Note...

Disease X is not a specific disease but defines the possible emergence of a disease that can be caused by a pathogen. Currently, there is no information as to whether the disease could affect human beings or what the disease is actually. Be cautious, not paranoid.

Read more about: ebola disease x covid who
Story first published: Monday, January 4, 2021, 14:23 [IST]