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Genetic Linkage

The Wuhan Coronavirus Inspires a Look Back at the Discovery of Viruses

I'm astonished at the speed with which geneticists and epidemiologists are zeroing in on the Wuhan coronavirus.


Nomenclature is still up in the air. The first name, "2019-nCoV" for "novel coronavirus first seen in 2019," is descriptive but not easy to remember. "Wu Flu" isn't correct – it's not a flu virus, nor is "Wuhan SARS" quite right because the new pathogen's genome isn't exactly like that of SARS.


I'll call it the Wuhan coronavirus until the World Health Organization decides on a name. WHO avoids places in disease names to avoid stigma, although I don't see the Rocky  Mountains suffering from lack of visitors due to the spotted fever that takes it's name (which isn't viral, but still).


Two Weeks to a Genome Sequence


Awareness of the new infectious disease began as 2019 drew to a close.


"On December 30th, China reported an outbreak of respiratory disease in Wuhan City, a major transportation hub about 700 miles south of Beijing with a population of more than 11 million people," Nancy Messonnier, director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said at a press briefing January 17. A chart from the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission that shows the rapid uptick in cases means that you don't have to have seen the final scene in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, showing a virus ricocheting around the globe, to know where things are headed.


To continue reading, go to my DNA Science blog for Public Library of Science, where this post first appeared. 

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