Friday, 17 May 2013

Media MER muttering more than murmurs.

Ouch. Anyway, before you finish typing or reading that coronavirus outbreak story make sure it doesn't use the names human betacoronavirus 2c EMC, human betacoronavirus 2c England-Qatar, human betacoronavirus 2C Jordan-N3betacoronavirus England 1 or (especially the short-sighted) novel coronavirus (NCoV)-they are so, like, yesterday's name. 

Prof Raoul J. de Groot and a host of coronavirus (CoV) experts, comprising the CoV Study Group, have penned a scientific article that has just been accepted into the Journal of Virology. The name of the newest spiky little killer is officially Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus or MERS-CoV for short. New variants (the same virus detected in other people/animals) will be given a name using the influenza virus naming system:

Virus name host/country of virus detection/variant identifier/year detected e.g. MERS-CoV Hu/Jordan-N3/2012).

That's as official as it gets anyway so this is how we should label it from here on in.

We're also avoiding calling it a human CoV until we know how humans get the infections. Since the virus is similar to a bat version one of many question is whether the cases all got it directly from bats (unlikely) or from human contact with another, intermediate, host. This builds on the media reports noted on 07.05.13.