An unknown and deadly new illness dubbed Disease X has been added to the list of potential global epidemics that could kill millions.
Each year scientists with the World Health Organisation (WHO) create a list of the most likely diseases to break out into a worldwide pandemic.
This year, among the familiar Ebola, SARS, and Zika viruses is the new name of Disease X.
And unlike the other pathogens, it is not known what causes Disease X or how doctors could try to treat it.
Researchers said that they added Disease X to the threat list to recognise the fact that the next deadly pandemic could be started by an illness that has not caused any problems before.
“Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease.”
Norwegian scientist and WHO adviser John-Arne Rottingen said that it was likely the next outbreak would be “something we have not seen before”.
“It may seem strange to be adding an ‘X’ but the point is to make sure we prepare and plan flexibly in terms of vaccines and diagnostic tests,” he told The Daily Telegraph.
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