Researchers have classified a new strain of the bird flu with a high mortality rate, and some people have suggested that it might be the anonymous Disease X.
What Is The New Bird Flu?
A deadly strain of the bird flu has wreaked havoc in China by killing 38 percent of people who have become infected by it. Known as H7N9, the virus began circulating in poultry before being transmitted to humans in 2013.
As of June 15, 1,625 people in China became infected with the virus and 623 have died. The initial symptoms include coughing, high fever, pneumonia, and shortness of breath. The virus attacks the lungs and limits the oxygen that a person could receive. This would often lead to organ failure and septic shock.
In its current state, the H7N9 virus is not contagious, but it is only three mutations away from reaching that state. Currently, most of the victims with the advanced form of the virus were pregnant women and the elderly.
Some scientists are comparing it to the H5N1 bird flu virus of 2003. However, this one has the potential to start a bigger global influenza pandemic.
What Is Disease X?
In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) added an unknown pathogen to its annual list of 10 deadly diseases. The reason it added an anonymous disease to the list was to create awareness about the potential disease.
Similar to the 1918 Spanish Flu, a global pandemic does not need to come from an identified source. Disease X could also be similar to HIV, which was transmitted to humans from animals.
"A serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease," WHO said.
By drawing attention to an unknown disease, WHO hopes to encourage people to create a vaccine for it by investing in "platform technologies."
WHO has not indicated that this new Chinese bird flu could become Disease X, but some people online are already saying that it could happen in the future.
What Should People Know About The New Bird Flu?
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer in the United Kingdom, told the Telegraph that he is concerned about the rise of the new bird flu in China.
"But it would be wrong to think we could have a pandemic virus in future that could kill 38 percent of people. It would change," said Van-Tam.
Scientists are currently conducting research into the H7N9 virus, and they are trying to develop a strategy to stop the virus from spreading.