The World Health Organization (WHO) is closely monitoring nine pathogens that pose the most “urgent” threat to humanity. Urgent research is being carried out on all of them to find tests, treatments and vaccines that can prevent a new pandemic.
The latest disease added to the list is avian flu, which is currently sweeping the world and caused, in addition to a crisis around the food market and price increases, the slaughter of millions of birds. A situation that generates fears about the possibility that the flu will jump from animals to humans.
According to the most recent studies, mutations in the virus facilitate mammal-to-mammal transmission. But in addition, some British scientists warned that, if it reached humans, bird flu could kill one in twenty people.
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“I don’t know why they chose to exclude influenza and bird flu from the list,” he questioned. Francois Balloux, an infectious disease expert at University College London. “No matter how you look at it, the possibility of the next pandemic being caused by an influenza lineage is high.”
“One possibility may be that they wanted to draw attention to some lesser-known zoonotic threats., for which preparation must be intensified, while there are contingency plans for the flu. “The problem with that explanation is that it doesn’t fit with the fact that SARS-CoV-2 is on the list,” he said.
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The list of the 9 diseases monitored by the WHO
The list of “priority diseases” on the WHO website explains: “This is not an exhaustive list, nor does it indicate the most likely causes of the next epidemic. WHO reviews and updates this list as needs arise and change. the methodologies”.
During the first wave of the pandemic, when society was forced into mass lockdowns, the disease killed one in 100 people infected. Since then, it has killed nearly 15 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.
Known for its respiratory symptoms, key signs of the infection include a dry cough, shortness of breath, fever, and loss of taste or smell. The virus attacks the lungs, and as the body fights to kill off the infection, experts say it can destroy lung tissue and cause inflammation.
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This can lead to pneumonia, in which the lungs fill with fluid, making it difficult to breathe. But these symptoms can also limit the supply of oxygen to the blood, leading to a variety of other problems that can lead to death.
An analysis of official data from Oxford University shows that the “infection death rate” has dropped by some 30 times since the pandemic began due to a combination of vaccinations and naturally acquired protection from a previous infection.
Earlier this month, the WHO stated that Covid was no longer a public health emergency of international concern, but the virus is now considered an “established and continuing health problem” and it is repeatedly warned that a more infectious or lethal variant could emerge.
2. Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever
With Ebola-like symptoms at the beginning of the infection – including muscle aches, abdominal pain, sore throat and vomiting -, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is a tick-borne virus that can be fatal in up to 40% of cases.
Also can trigger bleedingusually from the nose or broken capillaries in the eyes and skin, as well as fever, dizziness, neck pain and stiffness, back pain, headache, eye pain, and sensitivity to light.
It can spread from person to person through bodily fluids or between hospital patients if medical equipment is not properly sterilized, but people can also becoming infected after contact with blood or tissue from infected cattle.
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3. The Ebola virus and the Marburg virus
Ebola, which kills around half the people it infects, is also on the list, along with the Marburg virus, one of the deadliest pathogens ever discovered, with a fatality rate of 88 percent.
Both are hemorrhagic fevers, in which organs and blood vessels are damaged, causing internal bleeding or bleeding from the eyes, mouth, and ears. Both diseases cause vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, and yellowing of the skin and eyes.
the two viruses can be spread by touching or handling bodily fluids from an infected personcontaminated objects or infected wild animals.
In the case of the Marbur virus, infected patients become “ghostly“, often with an emaciated appearance, sunken eyes and expressionless faces. Dozens of cases were confirmed this year in Equatorial Guinea and Tanzania.
4. Lassa Fever
Rodent-borne Lassa disease it causes no symptoms in 80 percent of patients and kills only one percent of those it infects. People usually become infected with Lassa fever after exposure to food or household items contaminated with the urine or feces of infected rats.
But the virus, which can cause women to bleed from the vagina and trigger seizures, can also be transmitted through bodily fluids.
Lassa fever is endemic in Nigeria and several other countries on the west coast of Africa, including Liberia and Guinea, but in 2022 one person died in the UK after contracting the disease in West Africa.
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5. Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
The coronavirus Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), also known as camel fluIt is a rare but serious respiratory disease. Its symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Camels are believed to be the natural host of the virus, which is from the same family as the virus behind the Covid pandemic.
Meanwhile, the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a viral respiratory disease caused by a SARS-associated coronavirus, an earlier and deadlier cousin of SARS-CoV-2, now commonly known as Covid-19, which first originated in China in 2002.
6. Nipah and henipaviral diseases
The incurable virus of Nipah can be contracted from pigs or from people who eat fruit or drink contaminated palm wine. by infected bats. It can also be transmitted between people.
The disease has killed more than 260 people in Malaysia, Bangladesh and India in the past 20 years, according to the World Health Organization. The first known outbreak, in Malaysia in 1998, killed more than 100 people after they contracted the disease from infected pigs.
The symptoms of Nipah, which can include fever, headache, drowsiness, and confusion, usually appear five to 14 days after contracting the virus and can last for two weeks. However, in severe cases, people can go into a coma within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms.
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7. Rift Valley fever
Rift Valley fever (RVF) is a viral disease most commonly seen in domestic animals in sub-Saharan Africa.including cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats and camels.
People can contract RVF through contact with blood, body fluids, or tissues from infected animals, or through the bites of infected mosquitoes, but most experience no symptoms or experience a mild, cold-like illness with fever, weakness, back pain and dizziness.
However, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in ten who contract the disease can develop severe symptoms that can include eye diseases, excessive bleeding or even encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).
For now, it is not known to spread between humans.
He Zika virus is a flavivirusa type of RNA viruswhich is transmitted to people through the bite of infected female mosquitoes and can very rarely be transmitted through sex with someone who has it. For most people, the infection is mild and harmless.. However, it can cause problems for pregnant women.
The first recorded outbreak of Zika virus disease was reported on the island of Yap, Federated States of Micronesia, in 2007. However, outbreaks of Zika virus disease have since been confirmed in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific.
Mosquito-borne virus caused global panic in 2016, after millions became infected. That outbreak led to dozens of babies being born with birth defects such as microcephaly.
Since 2016, more than 80 countries have suffered from Zika outbreaks, common symptoms of which include high fever, headaches, pain, red eyes, swollen joints, and joint and muscle pain.
“Disease X”: there are 25 viruses under the microscope of the WHO for fear of new pandemics
The mystery of “Disease X”
Disease X, which first appeared on the WHO list in 2018, represents a currently unknown hypothetical pathogen.
The WHO said: “Disease X represents the knowledge that a severe international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen that is currently unknown to cause human disease.”
“So the R&D Plan explicitly seeks to enable cross-sector preparation of R&D that is also relevant to an unknown ‘Disease X’ to the extent possible.”
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