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Thai medical centre on alert over outbreak of ‘Disease X’ in Afghanistan
FRIDAY, JANUARY 27, 2023
Thailand’s Centre for Medical Genomics is closely following an ongoing outbreak of a severe respiratory disease known as “Disease X”, which is being monitored by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The WHO is monitoring an outbreak of the respiratory disease in a village in Afghanistan’s northeastern Badakhshan region, according to the Thai centre’s Facebook page.
It says 97 cases have been reported and that 17 resulted in death.
The centre, which operates under Mahidol University’s Faculty of Medicine, said on Friday that the WHO had yet to identify the pathogen or virus causing the disease.
A WHO team was sent to the remote village to investigate the disease amidst bad weather conditions and heavy snowfall, the centre reported.
The centre also said that it was conducting research on the DNA and RNA genetic sequences of the disease.
It said the WHO started preparing for an international epidemic of Disease X last October by launching a global scientific process to update its list of priority pathogens – agents that can cause outbreaks or pandemics.
Disease X was officially included in the latest update of the WHO’s list.
The WHO convened a meeting of over 300 scientists in November to consider 25 virus families and bacteria, as well as Disease X. It also recommended a list of pathogens to prioritise for further research.
The WHO’s list includes Disease X, along with Covid-19, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, Ebola, the Marburg virus, Lassa fever, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the nipah virus, Rift Valley fever, and the zika virus.
“Disease X” is a placeholder name that was adopted by the WHO in February 2018 on its shortlist of priority diseases to represent a hypothetical, unknown pathogen that could cause a future epidemic.