[Ads-l] Disease names and geography

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sat May 1 20:56:02 EDT 2021


It would probably be difficult to convince journalists and newscasters
to use names like "B117 variant". Shorter and simpler names for
variants would be helpful. Four character alphanumeric strings are
unlikely to achieve much traction.

Journalists might be willing to use names like Covid alpha variant,
Covid beta variant, Covid gamma variant, et cetera. But a scientific
body would have to assign those names. Scientists are probably
identifying an enormous number of variants at this time based on the
mutating genetic sequence of the virus. Therefore, to follow this
naming scheme only a subset of variants should be given simpler names
based on prevalence or importance.

The WHO guidelines for disease naming also state:
Disease names may NOT include people’s names.
Examples to be avoided: Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Chagas disease.

Interestingly, the tropical cyclone naming scheme in the U.S. is based
on common (and uncommon) first names. The 2021 list includes: Ana,
Bill, Claudette, Danny, Elsa, Fred. Are people unhappy when their
first name is also the name of a deadly hurricane?

https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutnames.shtml

Garson

On Sat, May 1, 2021 at 8:17 PM Mark Mandel <markamandel at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Yes, that's what I was referencing with **Don't Encourage Prejudice and
> Hatred**-- or rather the converse: *inferring* from an ethnonymic nosonym*,
> such as "Chinese flu", that the population referred to is an enemy.
>
> WcBut the media's excuse for using geographic names, if they need one,
> would be staying comprehensible to their readers, who are not researchers
> in this field and can't reasonably be expected to remember which numbered
> variant does what.
>
> *nosonym: name for a disease.
> I coined this word myself, starting from *nosocomial infection *(one
> acquired in a hospital). On investigation I found, to my relief, that I was
> not alone, much less the pioneer. From the Compact OED:
> >>>>>
> *Noso:* combining form of Gr. *νόσος* disease, used in a number of
> compounds, chiefly pathological...
> <<<<<
>
> Respectfully submitted,
> Dr. Whom: Consulting Linguist, Grammarian, Orthoëpist, and Philological
> Busybody,
> Editor and Proofreader
> aka Mark A. Mandel
>
>
>
> On Sat, May 1, 2021, 6:47 PM Dan Goncharoff <thegonch at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > Isn't the problem the human tendency to name diseases after enemies?
> >
> > On Sat, May 1, 2021, 4:02 PM Mark Mandel <markamandel at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > > It's a good idea socially -- i.e., *Don't Encourage Prejudice and Hatred*
> > > -- but geographical names are a heck of a lot easier for most people to
> > > remember than arbitrary strings of letters and digits.
> > >
> > > MAM
> > >
> > > On Sat, May 1, 2021, 3:13 PM ADSGarson O'Toole <
> > adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com>
> > > wrote:
> > >
> > > > The World Health Organization has suggested that disease names should
> > > > not include geographical markers. (See the citation and excerpt at the
> > > > end of this message.) Hence, the name of the infectious disease
> > > > causing the current pandemic deliberately did not include "Wuhan",
> > > > "China", or "Asian". Instead, the name Covid-19 was constructed.
> > > >
> > > > Interestingly, the major news organizations are not following this
> > > > advice when reporting about variants of Covid-19. For example, the
> > > > names "UK variant" and "South African variant" are employed in news
> > > > reports from CNN and BBC.
> > > >
> > > > Perhaps this will change over time.
> > > >
> > > > Here is a report from CNN last month. The title prominently features
> > > > the name "UK variant". The accompanying video shows the Director of
> > > > the CDC Rochelle Walensky, and she uses the term "B117 variant", but
> > > > the journalists mention "UK variant".
> > > >
> > > > Website: CNN
> > > > Title: UK variant is now the dominant coronavirus strain in the US,
> > > > says CDC chief
> > > > Author:  Betsy KIein (CNN)
> > > > Date: April 7, 2021
> > > >
> > > >
> > >
> > https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/07/us/uk-variant-dominant-coronavirus-strain/index.html
> > > >
> > > > [Begin excerpt of transcribed text]
> > > > Journalist: The CDC director just moments ago at the White House
> > > > briefing said that the UK variant is now the most prevalent strain in
> > > > the Unites States. Listen to this.
> > > > Rochelle Walensky: The B117 variant is now the most common lineage
> > > > circulating in the United States.
> > > > [End excerpt]
> > > >
> > > > Website: BBC
> > > > Title: Covid: Fears of 'impending doom' in Pakistan
> > > > Author: Abid Hussain
> > > > Date: April 30, 2021
> > > > https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-56888541
> > > >
> > > > [Begin excerpt]
> > > > One of the key drivers which led Pakistan to this stage was the
> > > > arrival of the UK variant, as confirmed by Umar during second week of
> > > > March. He later declared it to be more dangerous than the original
> > > > strain.
> > > > But the variant has collided with something else: apathy.
> > > > [End excerpt]
> > > >
> > > > Website: BBC
> > > > Title: Moderna vaccine appears to work against variants
> > > > Author: Michelle Roberts
> > > > Date: January 25, 2021
> > > > https://www.bbc.com/news/health-55797312
> > > >
> > > > [Begin excerpt]
> > > > Blood samples exposed to the new variants appeared to have sufficient
> > > > antibodies to achieve this neutralising effect, although it was not as
> > > > strong for the South Africa variant as for the UK one.
> > > > [End excerpt]
> > > >
> > > > Website: WHO.int
> > > > Title: World Health Organization Best Practices for the Naming of New
> > > > Human Infectious Diseases
> > > > Date: May 2015
> > > >
> > > >
> > >
> > https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/163636/WHO_HSE_FOS_15.1_eng.pdf
> > > >
> > > > [Begin excerpt]
> > > > Disease names may NOT include:
> > > > Geographic locations: Cities, countries, regions, continents
> > > >
> > > > Examples to be avoided:
> > > > Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, Spanish Flu, Rift Valley fever, Lyme
> > > > disease, Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever, Japanese encephalitis
> > > > [End excerpt]
> >
> >
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

------------------------------------------------------------
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


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