What is ‘Disease X’ and why are UK experts raising alarm over it?

Published on Jun 27, 2022 06:20 PM IST

According to the World Health Organisation, “Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease.”

According to the World Health Organisation, Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease.(AP)
According to the World Health Organisation, Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease.(AP)
By | Written by Aryan Prakash

Health experts in Britain have urged the government to be prepared for the much-talked about ‘Disease X’, this after a series of infections hit the country, several UK media reports said.

The warning by health experts comes in wake of the poliovirus being detected in sewage samples in London, Reuters had reported. The authorities have not found any cases of polio which causes paralysis in children. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said the risk was low because of high vaccination coverage.

UK has been battling the Monkeypox menace with 910 confirmed cases till June 23, Reuters reported. Out of these, 873 cases have been detected in England, 26 in Scotland, three in Northern Ireland and eight in Wales.

In March, the country reported a case of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever after a woman returned from central Asia, The Daily Mail reported. The United Kingdom has also been reporting cases of Lassa fever and bird flu in the recent years.

“We're living through a new pandemic area,” medical experts said, adding that the ‘Disease X’ could be just round the corner, The Mirror reported.

According to the World Health Organisation, “Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease.”

Professor Mark Woolhouse of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, told UK daily The Telegraph that the early 21st century had been a perfect storm for the emerging infectious diseases and everything is pointing towards the likelihood of more outbreaks.

Professor Jean-Jacques Muyembe Tamfum, who helped discover the Ebola virus in 1976, while speaking to CNN last year had warned of more zoonotic diseases, or those that jump from animals to humans, could arise.

On March 8, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the UN health agency had developed research roadmaps, target product profiles and trial designs to evaluate tools for a set of priority diseases, including two coronaviruses and an unidentified disease called ‘Disease X’.

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