Monday, May 27, 2013

When it comes to viruses, what's in a name?

For a pathogen with such a short history, the mysterious new virus killing people in the Middle East and Europe has already had an amazing array of names.

It first surfaced last year as "human betacoronavirus 2c EMC", but the suffixes "2c England-Qatar, "2C Jordan-N3", "England 1" have also appeared and many scientists have resorted to "novel coronavirus" - new crown-shaped virus - instead.

While the World Health Organization (WHO) says the virus and the severe infections and deaths it has caused are "alarming" and need to be tracked, none of its names is especially helpful.

"A virus is only 'novel' until the next one comes around," Raoul de Groot, head of the Coronavirus Study Group (CSG), said of the catchiest of the titles it has acquired so far.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/22/us-coronavirus-name-idUSBRE94L0JE20130522