Home>Science/Nature>Disease X: Scientists on the hunt for next epidemic – and it could wipe out THOUSANDS | Science | News
Science/Nature

Disease X: Scientists on the hunt for next epidemic – and it could wipe out THOUSANDS | Science | News


The hypothesised Disease X has the potential to creep up on humanity and wipe out large swathes of the population in a similar fashion to the , which killed off five percent of the global population, and Russian Flu, which wiped out a million Europeans.

Earlier this year the World Organisation (WHO) declared Disease X is one of the great potential risks to life and a top priority for research.

Scientists have made strides in trying to uncover the unknown and discovered two new viruses in Myanmarese bats.The viruses which were discovered belonged to the coronavirus family which have already caused two outbreaks on Earth.

One is the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which infected about 8,000 people in 2003.

The other is the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) which has a 35 percent mortality rate and was first identified in 2012.

Marc Valitutto, a wildlife vet with Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Global Health Program, said: “Our goal is to look for a pandemic virus, a virus that has the potential to have high mortality.”

He adds that the next diseases will likely come from Asia or Africa as these are the places where humans are most rapidly destroying the environment.

He said: “We are seeing once pristine forests under threat for increased development, which brings wildlife in these areas in close contact with humans.

“Our concern is that if you use the forest for roads and agriculture you disrupt the ecosystem. Animals will leave the forest and be exposed to humans.”

Now the Museum of London is showcasing an exhibition which highlights the perils of Disease X, opening November 16.

A statement from the museum said: ”The Museum of London will look to the future for the next unknown lethal disease that might hit us and explore the deadly epidemics of past centuries.”

However, Vyki Sparkes, co-curator of ‘Disease X’, said that not all is doom and gloom and says new technology and medicines will help us cope better with a future unknown outbreak.

She said: “While there is a very high probability that the next big epidemic will come from a totally unexpected source, this is by no means a completely bleak story.

“London is very well prepared for any potential outbreak and its ongoing medical surveillance is scrupulous.

“Also, we can look back to several success stories. In the 18th century, smallpox killed between 8 and 20 percent of the population of London.

“It declined in the late 18th century as vaccination was introduced and was completely eradicated in 1980.

“Similarly, cholera has not returned to the capital since 1866, after the great engineering feats of Joseph Bazalgette that transformed the sewer system.

“These successes should be an inspiration for dealing with the arrival of ‘Disease X’.”



Source link

Review Overview

Summary