Jane Bates: Catch my drift?

Don’t mess with disease names, says Jane Bates.

Don’t mess with disease names, says Jane Bates

‘Poly-something. That’s what it was,’ the patient said. Polycythaemia? Polydactyly? Polyfilla? She had no idea and neither did I.

Taking an accurate medical history can be an uphill struggle. Medical words can be difficult to remember for some patients, and it could soon get a whole lot worse.

The World Health Organization has said that no new human infectious diseases should be named after animals, people or countries because of the panic and confusion this has apparently caused. So no more swine flu, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever. To avoid negative connotations, the scientific term will be used instead. So thanks guys, you just made life so much harder.

And is this really necessary? No rocky mountain has ever been hurt by having a spotted fever named after it. And who, on contracting rubella, blames


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