There have been epidemics in human history over and over again that cost millions of lives. What is the danger of “illness X”?
Every year, the flu is caused by other influenza viruses. That’s why the flu vaccine has to be readjusted every year. But even if flu can take a dangerous course, it usually goes off lightly and is over after one to two weeks. But what if influenza viruses degenerate? In human history, it has often been these virus mutations that have killed millions of people.
Black Death, Ebola or the Spanish Flu: Pandemics have killed countless people in the past – and could do so in the future. The World Health Organization (WHO) maintains a list of the world’s most dangerous infectious diseases, for which there are no or insufficient therapies. Ebola and Marburg virus, the Lassa fever or the Zika virus are represented – and the epidemic referred to as “disease X” is now in the WHO list, as reported, among other things, the British tabloid portal Daily Star.
Does “illness X” arise from influenza viruses?
It is a placeholder for a dangerous pandemic that is yet to come and that the medicine does not yet know. Scientists believe that “disease X” could arise from an existing disease, such as a mutation in the aggressive influenza virus that caused the Spanish flu. This had cost the lives of more than 25 million people at the beginning of the 20th century.
Also under discussion is a new dangerous “disease X” caused by a mutated form of bird flu, also called avian influenza. Again, there are influenza viruses that cause the disease. Although it is mainly transmitted from animal to animal, a mutated form of the pathogens could also be fatal for humans.
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“Disease X” could also be caused by unknown living things
Another way a new pandemic could threaten humanity is an unprecedented form of virus transmitted from animal to human. Dr. According to the Daily Star, Jonathan Quick, chairman of the US Global Health Council, believes there is a risk that this type of virus could be designed to spread quickly from person to person.
Even unknown microbes – the smallest creatures – lurking somewhere in the wild could be the cause of “illness X” according to the SüddeutscheZeitung.
In order to be prepared for such scenarios, the WHO included the unknown disease in its pandemic catalog. The aim behind this is to provide research and development capacity for yet unknown diseases so that a quick diagnosis is possible and vaccines and medicines are immediately available.