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The natural virome and pandemic potential: Disease X.

Over the last decade, the emergence of several zoonotic viruses has demonstrated that previously unknown or neglected pathogens have the potential to cause epidemics and therefore to pose a threat to global public health. Even more concerning are the estimated 1.7 million still-undiscovered viruses present in the natural environment or 'global virome', with many of these as-yet uncharacterized viruses predicted to be pathogenic for humans. Thus, in order to mitigate disease emergence and prevent future pandemics, it is crucial to identify the global extent of viral threats to which humans may become exposed. This requires cataloguing the viruses that exist in the environment within their various and diverse host species, and also understanding the viral, host, and environmental factors that dictate the circumstances that result in viral spillover into humans. We also address here which strategies can be implemented as countermeasure initiatives to reduce the risk of emergence of new diseases.

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