Coined ‘Disease X’, a new strain of bird flu - H7N9 - has sparked fears of a major outbreak among scientists, having already infected more than 1600 people.
Symptoms of infection include fever, coughing, shortness of breath, pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, septic shock, and organ failure.
The virus has already killed 623 people within China.
At this time, the H7N9 can’t be spread between humans - and can only be contracted from contact with birds.
However, experts suspect as few as three mutations could result in a human-to-human contagion - and potentially a worldwide pandemic.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said: "Influenza viruses constantly change and it is possible that this virus could gain the ability to spread easily and sustainably among people, triggering a global outbreak of disease."
England's Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Johnathan Van-Tam also expressed fears that H7N9 'could be the cause of the next pandemic'.
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Emily Court is a passionate ethical vegan from Eastern Canada. She is a Challenge 22 Mentor, Digital Writer, and experienced animal advocate driven by issues of animal liberation and social justice. She studied at Dalhousie University, where her thesis highlighted intercultural and gender relations. She is an established public speaker, writer, and world traveller with a drive to provide a voice to those who might not otherwise have one. You can follow her on Instagram @emily.j.court or on Twitter @_EmilyJCourt_.
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