Name, name, name…what’s in a name?!?!?! Well, it is important AND to keep us all straight there are some really smart folks who have been ruminating about this for the past few months. The group, the Coronavirus Study Group (CSG) of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) took the lead on making sure we were all straight and this new virus was properly named! After careful consideration and broad consultation, the CSG has decided to call the new coronavirus “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus” (MERS-CoV).
Kinda catchy, no?!?!? 😉
This name is endorsed by the discoverers of the virus and other researchers that pioneered MERS-CoV studies, by the WHO and by the Saudi Ministry of Health. The use of this new and official name is being recommended in all scientific and other communications so we will adopt it as well. New MERS-CoV isolates or variants detected by RT-PCR may be provided with an affix, analogous to convention in influenza virus nomenclature (host/country of origin + strain identification number/year; such as, MERS-CoV Hu/Jordan-N3/2012).
As of 14 May 2013, 38 cases of MERS-CoV have been reported worldwide, including 20 deaths. All cases remain associated with transmission in the Arabian Peninsula and Jordan. This includes indirect association following secondary person-to-person transmission in the UK and France.
The report of 19 new infections in Saudi Arabia in the past two weeks – including one infection with the novel coronavirus acquired in the United Arab Emirates and later imported to Europe – indicate that there is an ongoing source of infection and risk of transmission to humans in the Arabian Peninsula and Jordan.
The confirmed infection in France of a patient who shared a hospital room with a patient returning from the United Arab Emirates indicates the risk of nosocomial transmission. This is the second nosocomial transmission in Europe. The first one took place when an imported case in the UK visited a relative in the hospital in February 2013.