“Zoonotic”: the theory of the origins of Covid-19 which is not so far-fetched

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“Zoonotic”: the theory of the origins of Covid-19 which is not so far-fetched


HHow did the Covid-19 start? Some have come up with a “lab leak” hypothesis, that Chinese virologists working on ways to make bat coronaviruses more dangerous to humans have been only too successful at this and then let it s ‘escape. Others believe it is more likely that, like many other diseases, Covid-19 is naturally ‘zoonotic’. What?

Son is Old Greek for “animal”, hence “zoologist” and, uh, “zoo”. Ours, meanwhile, is Greek for “disease”, hence many clever English coins which have long, alas, fallen into disuse, such as “nosography” (17th century), the systematic description of disease (literally “Write about the disease”), or “nosotrophic”, causing the disease. A “zoonotic” disease is therefore a disease that has crossed the species barrier of another animal to thrive in humans, such as avian flu and swine flu, but also HIV (from chimpanzees), toxoplasmosis (cats), anthrax (cattle)) and rabies (dogs).

Fortunately, the technical medical lexicon still includes the term “nosology” (from 1721, then defined by lexicographer Nathan Bailey as “a treatise on diseases”): it now designates either the systematic classification of diseases or the state of knowledge about a disease. particular disease. Thus, the question of whether Covid-19 is zoonotic must await new nosological developments.

A Word for Every Day of the Year by Steven Poole is published by Quercus.

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