A taxonomy of viruses? Sadly, yes. This alarming subject came to our attention by STAT in their article, “It’s been sequenced. It’s spread across borders. Now the new pneumonia-causing virus needs a name.

Naming a virus isn’t quite as exciting as naming a planet or new micro-organism, but there is debate happening on who gets to name the pneumonia-causing virus, which is spreading rapidly in China and beyond. It is currently being identified as 2019-nCoV, shorthand for a novel or new  coronavirus (CoV) that was first detected in 2019.

Even though the news is referring to it as Wuhan SARS or Wu Flu, it is unlikely this will become the official virus’ or the disease’s permanent  name. They almost certainly would be unacceptable to the Chinese, and to the World Health Organization, which discourages the use of place names in the naming of diseases.

Professionals in the field are urging the study group to pick a name sooner rather than later or it will get out of control and there will be no consistency.

That is a taxonomy for you – providing consistency with a solid set of terms, regardless of the topic.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Access Innovations, the world leader in taxonomies, metadata, and semantic enrichment to make your content findable.