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Here are 8 viruses you should look out for

This photograph taken on December 7, 2021, shows a sign of the World Health Organisation (WHO) at its headquarters in Geneva.— AFP

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is now worried about eight more diseases after COVID-19 upended the world. The agency’s infectious disease specialists are revising their global priority pathogens list to include worrying viruses which they plan to publish in the first quarter of 2023.

“Targeting priority pathogens and virus families for research and development of countermeasures is essential for a fast and effective epidemic and pandemic response,” said the executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme Dr Michael Ryan back in November 2022.

“Without significant R&D investments prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, it would not have been possible to have safe and effective vaccines developed in record time.”

Despite the fact that COVID-19 is still the most concerning virus, WHO plans to inform the public about other viruses to keep us informed and prepared. 

The following eight viruses should be avoided:

Zika virus

Aedes mosquito bites are the primary way that the virus is transmitted. The virus is typically not fatal, but if it infects a pregnant person, it can result in premature birth, miscarriage, and microcephaly in infants.

Fever, rash, muscle soreness, and headache are a few signs of the Zika virus. For this specific virus, there isn’t a vaccination yet. Zika virus cases have decreased since 2017, yet they are still a problem in several nations.

Ebola and Marburg

Lethal viruses like Ebola and Marburg can cause fever, tiredness, diarrhoea, vomiting, significant bleeding, and bruises. Even though outbreaks of the two are relatively uncommon, they frequently happen in Africa, especially in animals.

Through direct contact with bodily fluids from an infected person, humans can contract the viruses. The rVSV-ZEBOV Ebola vaccine was authorised in the United States back in 2019. A monoclonal antibody treatment for Ebola is also available and can benefit Ebola patients.


The respiratory virus known as MERS, also known as the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), was first spread to people by dromedary camels.

It has been found in places including South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. MERS has been linked to reports of infections in 27 countries since 2012, killing 858 people.

Lassa fever

An acute virus called Lassa fever is brought on by common African rats. Currently, it can be found in parts of West Africa like Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and Nigeria.

The first outbreak took place in a region of Nigeria, hence the name Lassa fever. Every year, there are roughly 5,000 fatalities and between 100,000 and 300,000 new cases.

In comparison to some other viruses, the symptoms, which include a little temperature, weakness, and headache, are very moderate. 

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF)

This virus has a mortality rate of up to 40% and can cause deadly viral hemorrhagic fever. Humans typically contract it from ticks and farm animals, while it can also spread from person to person by blood contact, discharge, and other means.

Fever, lightheadedness, headaches, myalgia, neck discomfort, and dizziness are a few of the virus’s symptoms. There is currently no vaccination for the virus, which is present throughout Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East, and Asia.

Nipah virus

The nipah virus is zoonotic, which means it may transfer from animals to people. The symptoms of the virus can range from minor to severe, and even lethal. It is frequently seen in some Asian nations, such as Bangladesh and India.

Avoiding raw date palm sap, which can be contaminated with sick bats, and avoiding diseased pigs and bats in specific places are two ways to avoid contracting the zoonotic virus.

Rift Valley fever

The virus, which is frequently present in animals in sub-Saharan Africa, can be transmitted through contact with bodily fluids or even by mosquito bites. Infection from human to human has not yet been observed.

Fortunately, it causes fewer severe effects in people than it does in animals, where it can cause deadly consequences. Only a small percentage of infected people get more severe symptoms, like haemorrhage and encephalitis, which causes the brain to expand.

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