- Professor Jean-Jacques Muyembe Tamfum helped discover Ebola virus in 1976
- He said new potentially fatal viruses emerge from Africa’s tropical rainforests
- ‘Disease X’, which stands for unexpected, is hypothetical but could be deadly
By NICOLE CONNER FOR MAILONLINE PUBLISHED: 09:18 EST, 2 January 2021 | UPDATED: 12:55 EST, 2 January 2021
The doctor who discovered Ebola warns that new deadly viruses are set to hit mankind as medics fear new Disease X.
Professor Jean-Jacques Muyembe Tamfum, who helped discover the Ebola virus in 1976, said humanity faces an unknown number of new viruses.
He has said there are new and potentially fatal viruses emerging from Africa’s tropical rainforests, reports CNN.
He added: ‘We are now in a world where new pathogens will come out. And that’s what constitutes a threat for humanity.’
The professor said that he thinks future pandemics could be worse than Covid-19 and could be more apocalyptic.
In Ingende, Democratic Republic of the Congo, a patient, who wishes to remain nameless was showing early symptoms of hemorrhagic fever.
The patient had an Ebola test, but doctors fear she is patient zero of ‘Disease X’, which stands for unexpected, when the results came back negative.
This new pathogen could spread as fast as Covid-19 but has Ebola’s 50 to 90 per cent fatality rate.
The professor said that he thinks future pandemics could be worse than Covid-19 and could be more apocalyptic (pictured: Researchers collect samples from a bat in Gabon)
‘Disease X’ is hypothetical, but scientists fear it could lead to destruction around the world if and when it occurs, according to WHO.
Professor Muyembe took the first blood samples from the victims of a mysterious disease, later named Ebola, when he was a young researcher.
The disease caused hemorrhages and killed about 88% of patients and 80% of the staff who were working at the Yambuku Mission Hospital when it was first discovered.
The vials of blood were sent to Belgium and the US, where scientists found a worm-shaped virus.
The professor warned of many more zoonotic diseases – those that jump from animals to humans – to come.
Yellow fever, various forms of influenza, rabies, and Lyme disease are among those that pass from animals to humans, often via rodents or insects and have caused epidemics and pandemics before.
Experts say the rising number of emerging viruses is largely the result of the destruction of animal’s habitats and wildlife trade.
As their natural habitats disappear, animals like rats, bats, and insects survive where larger animals get wiped out.
SARS, MERS and the Covid-19 virus are all coronaviruses that jumped to humans, with Covid-19 thought to have originated in China, possibly in bats.
The professor warned of many more zoonotic diseases – those that jump from animals to humans – to come (stock image)
According to research by Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, new species of viruses are being discovered at a rate of three to four a year.
The majority of them originate from animals with scientists believing zoonotic illnesses like Ebola and Covid-19 make the leap when wild animals are butchered.
The live animals in so-called ‘wet’ markets pose a bigger threat and ‘Disease X’ may be living inside any one of the animals there.
Scientists have previously linked these kinds of wet markets to zoonotic diseases, as the avian flu and SARS both emerged from them. (Click to Source)