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The modern naming of diseases

Perhaps the medical profession has, finally, caught up with how to address diseases and be less blunt in explaining the prognosis to a patient.    Telling a patient that cancer is incurable?   A disease is "fatal?" etc. etc.

"If the World Health Organization has its way, celebrity through nosology—the classification of diseases—may soon go the way of consumption, dropsy, and other outdated diagnoses. In May, the W.H.O. released a set of best practices that prohibits the use of eponyms in the naming of new illnesses. The idea is to avoid creating stigmas that might affect trade or tourism or lead to social awkwardness. “I’m rather personally glad that I’m not Mr. Creutzfeldt,” Kazuaki Miyagishima, a W.H.O. director, told me, referring to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a degenerative brain disorder. Having such a name, he said, might take a lot of explaining, along the lines of, “There is nobody suffering from the disease in my family. If you want to marry me, you can marry me without risk.” The new guidelines replace references to people, places, and specific occupations with generic descriptive terms and the names of pathogens. The result is a straightforward designation such as “novel coronavirus respiratory syndrome” (although that one comes close to violating the pronounceability rule). The W.H.O. also advises namers to steer clear of words that might sow panic—“fatal,” “epidemic,” “unknown.”

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