The type of virus that may cause the next pandemic

While some health experts suggest that the next pandemic could be between five and 10 years away, what that pandemic could be caused by and if the U.S. will be ready for it are separate questions. 

Coronavirus and influenza have been attributed as causes of the last few pandemic, paramyxovirus — which according to the NIH is a family of single-stranded RNA viruses that typically cause infection in vertebrates — could be the next, The Atlantic reported Oct. 29.

Paramyxoviruses can lead to infections like Hendra virus, measles, mumps, Nipah virus and parainfluenza according to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations

The viral family is one to watch, according to experts, because on Oct. 19 it made the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' list of possible pandemic pathogens to watch.  

In addition to the well known infections like measles and mumps, NIAID experts note that clinicians should also watch for other infections in the paramyxovirus family including "viruses proposed as prototypes are Cedar virus, canine distemper virus, human parainfluenza virus 1/3, and Menangle virus." 

Paramyxoviruses spread quickly through the air like influenza and coronaviruses, but the main difference is that paramyxoviruses are usually straightforward to vaccinate against and don't evolve or change as rapidly, The Atlantic reported. 

Still, there is a lot that experts have to learn about the virus group, especially since it is not watched. 

"Although the family has been plaguing us for countless generations, researchers still don’t know exactly how paramyxoviruses move into new species, or what mutations they would need to become more transmissible among us; they don’t know why some paramyxoviruses spark only minor respiratory infections, whereas others run amok through the body until the host is dead," the outlet reported. "Even the paramyxoviruses that feel somewhat familiar are still surprising us." 

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