Three Mystery Epidemics

The World Health Organization is an under-appreciated institution, which often takes on critical tasks. For example, in 2011 it brokered an agreement to end a controversy about viral sample sharing particularly related to avian influenza. This agreement will greatly help with the development of pre-pandemic vaccines, but such achievements attract little press coverage. The WHO receives much more press when it acts as the world’s medical sleuth. When invited, it quickly arrives on the scene wherever a new disease is emerging. At the moment there are no fewer than three new diseases that merit the WHO’s attention. Although they may not each be the next SARS, they all have worrisome aspects.