The disease is called COVID-19. The virus that causes it is called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
According to World Health Organization’s website, viruses, and the diseases they cause, often have different names because there are different processes, and purposes, for naming viruses and diseases.
Viruses are named based on their genetic structure to facilitate the development of diagnostic tests, vaccines and medicines. Virologists and the wider scientific community do this work, so viruses are named by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV).
Diseases are named to enable discussion on disease prevention, spread, transmissibility, severity and treatment. Human disease preparedness and response is WHO’s role, so diseases are officially named by WHO in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).
ICTV announced “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)” as the name of the new virus on Feb. 11, 2020. This name was chosen because the virus is genetically related to the coronavirus responsible for the SARS outbreak of 2003.
On that same day, WHO announced “COVID-19” as the name of this new disease. It followed guidelines previously developed with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
According to its website, WHO refers to the virus as “the virus responsible for COVID-19” or “the COVID-19 virus” when communicating with the public as a way to not create unnecessary fear, especially in Asia which was worst affected by SARS 2003.
The WHO website offered no additional details on how SARS 2003 and SARS-CoV-2 of 2019 are related but different. I found one website that said SARS was more deadly but much less infectious than COVID-19.
I switched over to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. During the SARS outbreak of 2003, a total of 8,098 people worldwide became sick. Of those, 774 died. In the U.S., only eight people had laboratory evidence of SARS-CoV infection. All of those people had traveled to other parts of the world where SARS was spread.
According to Mayo Clinic’s website, SARS of 2003 usually begins with flu-like signs and symptoms – fever, chills, muscle aches, headache and occasionally diarrhea. After about a week, signs and symptoms include: fever of 100.5 or higher, dry cough, shortness of breath.
SARS 2019 has fever, tiredness and dry cough. In severe cases, people may experience pain or pressure in the chest and difficulty breathing.
What does all this mean? I think it means I need to rethink my sleepless night activities. These 2 a.m. searches increased my knowledge, but they did nothing about the crankiness I felt at 6 a.m. I would have been better served with cup of calming tea.
Standard reporter Lisa Hobbs can be reached at 473-2191.