Monday, February 20, 2006


Learnt this splendid word today for work-type reasons, and am annoyed not to have spotted it in the increasingly squawky coverage of bird flu. Perhaps I’m not reading the hysteria with due diligence.

Playing with the BBC’s flu spreader wossname, it looks like, you know, not that bad. Your normal flu drops people far more readily.

(Entirely crass, of course, to try some lame gag about the difference between bird and bloke flu, and how they exhibit almost entirely the same symptoms, but you can still struggle into work if it’s bird flu. No, I shall not stoop to such depths.)

Zoonoses is the proper name for diseases we can catch off animals – rabies, BSE, and cheery things like that.

WHO says (more or less) that it’s newly found-out-about zoonoses that gets the mob worked up, while ones we already know about are simply not as cool. Even in sickness there’s fashion.

Sadly, it’s not “zoo noses” like what orang-utans sniff with. Being a technical word, it’s got the same, double-syllable “zoo” as “zoology”, rather than rhyming with “goo”. And the -ses is pronounced “seize” – that is, the same long plural of an –sis ending you get in “analyses” and “crises”.

Oh well. It still looks good on the page and screen.

Also for work-type reasons (therefore being paid for the privilege) I have discussed such a thing as an oocyst of cryptosporidium. It’s like black-ops, radar-invisible transport for top-secret spores (the cryptosporidium) to get about in.

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