Nine viruses that the World Health Organization is worried about

Nine viruses that the World Health Organization is worried about

For infectious diseases experts in World Health Organization (WHO), the work is never done.

While the immediate dangers of coronavirus It seems that more than three years have passed since the respiratory disease that broke out of Wuhan, China and brought the world to a standstill, epidemiologists must remain alert for the next virus that has the theoretical potential to explode into a public health hazard.

The organization has maintained a list of “priority pathogens” since 2017, which compiles the diseases that pose the greatest potential threat to humanity and which we currently need more research to make sure we are in a position to tackle them if they start to spread.

The list, used by governments and public health organizations to guide their planning, will soon be revised again after the WHO in November he gathered 300 scientists reassess the danger posed by 25 viruses and bacteria with the goal of re-prioritizing.

“Targeting priority pathogens and virus families for research and development of countermeasures is essential for a rapid and effective epidemic and pandemic response,” Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, said at the time.

“Without significant investment in research and development before Covid-19 pandemic, it would not be possible to develop safe and effective vaccines in record time.”

We can expect an update in the coming months.

The coronavirus is at the top of the current list, but putting that aside since we’re all very familiar with it, here are the other eight viruses is currently the most worrisome WHO experts.

Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever

An endemic disease often found in Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East and Asia, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever is most often spread when people are bitten. infected ticks or come across sick livestock.

The resulting condition can damage the body’s internal organs and the cardiovascular system and cause serious bleeding.

The disease has a fatality rate of 10 to 40 percent, and a vaccine for it is approved in Bulgaria, but not yet approved anywhere else.

Ebola and Marburg

Bats and primates transmit both of these diseases, part of the filovirus family, which they also cause hemorrhagic fevers.

Once a person becomes infected, they usually spread the viruses to others through their bodily fluids or through direct contact or contact with contaminated surfaces in unsterilized environments.

They typically have a 50 percent fatality rate, although this has varied from 25 to 90 percent in previous outbreaks.

Vaccines have been used for Ebola in Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo, but are not widely approved.

Lassa fever

Endemic in West Africa, this disease is spread through urine and faeces rats and rodents. People who contract it can transmit it through their own secretions or blood or through sexual contact.

Lassa fever is believed to pose a particular danger to pregnant women in their third trimester, and can also cause deafness in patients.

The fatality rate is low at 1 percent, although it rises to 15 percent in cases where the condition is severe enough to result in hospitalization. Ribavirin is used for treatment, but there is no vaccine.


Properly known as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, this disease represents a deep infection of the respiratory tract and it originates from the region, where it is transported by camels.

Once a person is infected, it can be transmitted to others through close contact.

The fatality rate is high at 35 percent, and it has been diagnosed in 27 countries as of 2012, according to the WHO, but there is still no vaccine.

Nipah virus

This is repeated in Asia and carried by fruit batsas well as domestic animals such as pigs, horses, cats and dogs, and can be transmitted to humans by these carriers, as well as from person to person.

It can cause swelling of the brain (encephalitis), has a 40-70 percent mortality rate, and currently has no vaccine.

Rift Valley fever

A blood disease transmitted by mosquitoes, which pass it on bites people or livestock such as cows, sheep, goats, buffaloes and camels, Rift Valley fever has spread from Africa to Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

Although the fatality rate is less than 1 percent and Rift Valley is mild for most people, about 8 to 10 percent of patients develop severe symptoms, including eye lesions, encephalitis, and hemorrhagic fever.

A vaccine has been developed, but is not yet licensed anywhere.

Zika virus

Another disease spread by mosquito biteswhich can infect the blood and be transmitted sexually, Zika is rarely fatal but can cause severe brain defects in fetuses and is known to cause miscarriages and stillbirths.

There is currently no vaccine.

‘Disease X’

Space is reserved on the list for an as-yet-unknown virus that could appear in the future and cause us problems, as Covid so skillfully demonstrated in the spring of 2020.


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