WHO says Disease X could be the next global pandemic

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently listed a range of lethal diseases that have a po- tential to cause global outbreaks, including a new one they’ve termed ‘Disease X.’ In February, during the 2018 annual review of

the Blueprint list of priority diseases, a Geneva- based group of renowned medical scientists used a special tool to determine which diseases and pathogens to prioritize for research and develop- ment. The tool seeks to identify those diseases that pose a public health risk because of their epidemic potential and for which there are no, or insufficient, countermeasures, stated the WHO. The scientists say they do not know what Dis-

ease X is exactly – because it hasn’t developed yet – but did hypothesize that a variety of fac- tors have created conditions that could cause its development, resulting in a serious pandemic. Factors such as climate change, deforestation, and increasing human-animal contact are expos- ing new organisms. The increased use of chemi- cal weapons made from viruses, bacteria and poison gases and rogues who purposely create pathogens via gene-editing (e.g., Crispr) are other serious concerns. “Disease X represents the knowledge that a

serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease,” the WHO said in a statement. Other priority diseases on the 2018 list include: • Ebola virus disease and Marburg virus disease • Lassa fever • Crimean-Congo (CCHF) hemorrhagic fever • Nipah and henipaviral diseases • Rift Valley fever (RVF) • Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)

• Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) • Zika “These diseases pose major public health

risks, and further research and development is needed, including surveillance and diagnostics,” the WHO stated. Unfortunately, the WHO fears the threat of

a new disease could be crippling because the world is not prepared to defend against another pandemic, particularly one that hasn’t been iden- tified or dealt with before, and which the human immune system has no previous exposure or resistance. The hope is that by making Disease X a formal designation, with no known effects or treatment, it will encourage scientists worldwide to conduct rigorous research that could help populations prepare for a rapid response should a worldwide outbreak happen. “Also there are concerted efforts to address anti-microbial resistance through specific interna- tional initiatives,” the WHO stated. “The possibility was not excluded that, in the future, a resistant pathogen might emerge and appropriately be prioritized.” Source:


Technology takes the lead in reducing sepsis

by Susan Cantrell, ELS A

ccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Anyone can get an infection, and almost any infection can lead to sepsis.”1 The report indicates that people age 65 and older; those with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, lung disease, cancer, and kidney disease; the immuno- compromised; and children younger than one year are at higher risk of infection and sepsis.1

Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia

coli, and some types of Streptococcus are the most frequently identified pathogens caus- ing infections that can develop into sepsis.1 Another CDC report stated that more than 1.5 million people get sepsis each year in the U.S, approximately 250,000 Americans die from sepsis each year, and one in three patients who die in a hospital have sepsis.2 Clearly, it is important for healthcare workers to be educated on the signs of sepsis so that patients can be treated as soon as it is suspected. That is not as easy as it sounds. Fever, chills, rapid breath- ing and heart rate, rash, confusion, and disorientation are some of the symptoms of sepsis. These symptoms are common in other conditions, too, making it difficult to diagnose sepsis.

Calvin K. Janney RN, MSN-L, Ascom Clinical Application Specialist, noted, “Sepsis is a complicated and challenging condition to diagnose. Both patients and healthcare providers often don’t recognize the early symptoms, which can mimic com- mon ailments such as the flu, and therefore do not fully recognize or understand that the real problem is sepsis. Most cases of sepsis occur in the intensive care unit (ICU),

where the patient population is older, has weakened immune systems, often has drug resistance to certain types of bacteria, and has multiple invasive lines or tubes. These conditions can lead to the types of infection most likely to lead to sepsis.”

Bart Abban, Data Scientist, VigiLanz,

added, “Because of its complexity, it has historically been difficult to find consensus in the definition, diagnosis, and treatment of sepsis among the medical community. A major reason for the lack of awareness is that sepsis is often secondary to other diseases and conditions. Although sepsis might be what delivers the coup de grace to a patient, the initial hospitalization is often for another illness or condition.” Along the same vein, Rose Mary Casados, MBA, BSMT, ASCP, WW Marketing Manager, BD Life Sciences, said, “Sepsis is a secondary condition, usually the final common pathway to death. The challenges lie in driving education beyond first-line infections—such as pneumonia, urinary tract infection, and wound infection—but rather to the outcome of these diseases, which could include sepsis.” Sepsis is a puzzle to healthcare workers, so it is no surprise that the public knows little about it. The flu epidemic of 2017-2018 has drawn more attention to sepsis, according to Phillip Chan, MD, PhD, Chief Executive Officer, CytoSorbents Corporation. “The most recent influenza epidemic and the daily highly publicized stories of otherwise healthy individuals dying rapidly of the flu and associated complications due to ‘cyto- kine storm’ and excessive inflammation has likely improved awareness of sepsis.”

Communication is key

Ascom Myco 2 with DECT and Unite Context


When sepsis is suspected, minutes count; so, quick and easy communication is critical among those involved in the patient’s care. Janney, Ascom, noted, “Most hospitals have sepsis protocols they initiate when a patient is suspected of being septic. Improved communication opportunities arise when a nurse or healthcare professional can re- ceive alerts and send messages regarding diagnostic tests results. Because sepsis can progress rapidly, early detection and treat- ment improves outcomes.”

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