‘Disease X’ could kill 75 million every 5 years as humankind clashes with nature

An outbreak known as Disease X could wipe out 75 million people and cause pandemics every five years, according to scientists.

The disease may also be worse than the Black Death and caused by increasing human activity in animal habitats.

Scientists predict as mankind is on a collision course with nature across the globe, "zoonotic diseases" – which are when infections jump from animals to humans – are likely.

It comes amid investigations conducted by the World Health Organisation which suggested Covid-19 is likely to have been crossed from animals to humans.

Now scientists predict another disease like Covid is on the horizon.

Dr. Josef Settele, from the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research, a co-author of a new UN-level study on future pandemics, told The Sun Online the risk of animal to human transmission is growing as humans move into animal habitats.

A study published in Nature Communications reveals South East Asia, Southern and Central Africa, areas around the Amazon, and eastern Australia are at the highest risk for new diseases.

Dr Settele said: "Rampant deforestation, uncontrolled expansion of agriculture, intensive farming, mining and infrastructure development, as well as the exploitation of wild species have created a ‘perfect storm’ for the spillover of diseases from wildlife to people.

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"This often occurs in areas where communities live that are most vulnerable to infectious diseases."

An editorial in The Lancet warned Covid-19 is "not the last health emergency and not the worst."

It said: "Climate change has shown how an existential threat to human civilisation can galvanise a sense of urgency in a whole-of-society response. Tackling zoonoses needs exactly the same."

With humankind increasingly coming into contact with animals in wet markets, rainforest clearance and the expansion of urban areas as well as construction of dams – the potential of contracting a new diseases becomes more likely.

Dr Settele has called for humans to take action in a bid to prevent further crisis – he says the recent pandemics are "a direct consequence of human activity."

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