The Public Eye

printed 03/13/2020

Coronavirus, schmornavirus. Why can’t nature just leave us alone?

But no, every now and then it has to remind us that, as much as we’d like to think otherwise, we are not in charge.

Worst of all, this Crudvid-19, as it is known in the top tiers of science and medicine, isn’t running for office or even affiliated with a political party, thus leaving us with no one to blame.

In fact, just this week scientists at the Centers for Disease Control made that point, and issued this statement from Dr. Lozenge P. Sniffles, who was recently promoted from the Department of Pinworm Research and Containment to fill a vacancy created by the departure last year of someone a whole lot smarter.

“We are reminding the various political action committees that posting (possibly altered) videos or photos of Crudvid-19 shaking their little virus hands with anyone who is disliked by half the population will have no effect on its campaign,” he said.

On the bright side, Sniffles went on to say, his experience in the field suggests that a vaccine against pinworms is not far off, not that this would have anything to do with our current circumstance, but might help some people itching to feel better.

In the meantime, most of us are still trying to figure out how these viruses get their names.

The common cold, or the plain old crud, for instance is caused by the rhinovirus. So, you might ask, why is it rhinovirus? Why not hippovirus? Or sandhillcranevirus, for that matter?

It’s because science demands that we give germs and the like names we can’t possibly understand.

In this instance, rhinovirus comes from an ancient Greek word for nose — rhin — and the Latin word for poison — virus. So, in other words, we don’t catch colds, we have our noses poisoned.

On the other hand, saying, “nose poison season has arrived” sounds a little off.

Then too, attaching Greek and Latin labels to diseases, infections and infestations makes people more inclined to take them seriously.

Suppose, for instance, that you have pinworms, and that you’re out in public, and that you suddenly experienced some related discomfort that requires immediate attention.

You don’t immediately exclaim, “Whoa! My pinworms are acting up!” No, you say, “Sadly, I’ve been diagnosed with enterobius vermicularis.”

Those around you will sympathize and understand when you pull out your cell phone and call, “Hello? Dr. Sniffles? I have a problem.”

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