Bill Gates says a pandemic flu could kill 30 million people - these are the deadly diseases that scare experts the most
- A pandemic disease could be the greatest threat humanity faces right now.
- The WHO and CDC each keep lists of diseases that they consider urgent priorities for more research, but the next pandemic could be caused by a disease people have never seen before.
- For now, though, these are the six diseases that worry experts the most.
For scientists that study disease, one unnerving fact is always present: somewhere on the planet, there's an organism or organisms - likely bacteria or a virus - that could kill tens of millions if it started to spread among people.
Pathogens we've never seen before lurk around the world, potentially living in bats, mosquitoes, or ticks, and waiting to jump to humans. Existing diseases mutate, becoming deadlier or more contagious. People are even growing more capable of modifying deadly diseases on their own.Many experts think a global pandemic disease, whether naturally occurring or engineered, is the greatest threat humanity faces right now.
Bill Gates, who provides significant funding for disease research through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations, has repeatedly emphasized that we're not adequately prepared for the next pandemic illness. Recently, he warned that an outbreak of a disease like the flu virus that swept the world in 1918 could kill 30 million people within a six-month time span.
"The world needs to prepare for pandemics in the same serious way it prepares for war," Gates said at a recent discussion about epidemics.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) keeps lists of the diseases that pose national security threats as possible biological weapon agents. The World Health Organization (WHO) also lists priority diseases that they think could become public health emergencies.
Here are some of the diseases that keep those experts awake at night.