Experts have warned that a mysterious, unknown disease could become a global threat that wipes out out millions of humans. The illness – currently given the name Disease X – has the potential to spread quickly, and any cures or countermeasures are currently severely lacking.That’s according to scientists making up a World Health Organisation (WHO) expert committee, who have added Disease X to a list of conditions with the potential to become global pandemics. Doing so shows how seriously the world should be taking a condition that has not even developed yet. John-Arne Rottingen, chief executive of the Research Council of Norway and adviser to the WHO, told the Telegraph: ‘History tells us that it is likely the next big outbreak will be something we have not seen before.’
Disease X has become the ninth condition on the list that also includes Zika, Ebola and SARS. However, it is the only illness listed where experts do not what will cause it or how it can be treated. The WHO said: ‘Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown.’ It could be triggered by a biologic mutation, passed to humans from animals, or man-made – such as a side-effect from a major accident or terror attack using advanced weaponry.
But the mystery threat has not been placed on the list to scare the public. Instead, its presence could help to ensure that the world is as ready as it can be for an outbreak.