The mysterious SARS-related virus that has caused seven deaths in the Middle East could soon have an official name: MERS, which is short for Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus.
Science first reported on the potential new name, which was devised by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses.
The virus has been known about for seven months, but still has yet to receive an official name. Science was quick to point out that the MERS name has not yet been officially adopted, and that the group that came up with the name doesn’t actually have the power to enforce its use.
The Associated Press explains this particular coronavirus further:
The germ is from a family of viruses that cause the common cold, as well as SARS — the severe acute respiratory syndrome that killed some 800 people, mostly in Asia, in a 2003 epidemic. Health experts still aren’t sure how humans are being infected. The new coronavirus, which can cause acute pneumonia and kidney failure, is most closely related to a bat virus and scientists are considering whether bats or other animals like goats or camels are a possible source of infection.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are five coronaviruses that are known to be able to infect humans, and they cause respiratory symptoms. For more on coronaviruses, click over to the CDC’s fact sheet.