Log In
Wednesday 20th June 2018


6th February 2007

At the weekend I was reading Bill Bryson's excellent book A Short History of Nearly Everything. In the chapter dealing with microbes, the author is describing the role (and particularly stressing the ubiquity) of bacteria when he suddenly starts talking about HIV and influenza. Whoa. Has the perfectly researched Mr Bryson made the basic mistake of confusing bacteria and viruses? Actually no. On closer reading it is clear that he understands completely the difference between the two but I did have to do a double-take.

Today, a bacterium and a virus are completely interchangeable terms in common-speak. So when the Daily Mail publishes a story on Leslie Ash's battle with the MSSA bacteria, they use the term "virus" throughout - and virtually no one notices. And that presents us with a dilemma because we're trying to accurately portray - in summary form - the original article, not rewrite it to make sure it is technically correct. In any case, for the more complex stories we wouldn't necessarily be qualified to discern either way and would have to trust the accuracy of the original source.

So what to do? Answers on a postcard please...



Share this page


There are no comments for this article, be the first to comment!

Post your comment

Only registered users can comment. Fill in your e-mail address for quick registration.

Your email address:

Your comment will be checked by a Healthcare Today moderator before it is published on the site.

Article Information

Title: Superbugged
Author: Chris May
Article Id: 1943
Date Added: 6th Feb 2007


Add to scrapbook
Show Comments
Add comment
Find all related articles

M3 - For secure managed hosting over N3 or internet
© Mayden Foundation 2018