by Richard Ratzan, M.D.
Dr. Ratzan was a Classics major at Trinity College whose early publication as a medical student was on the Greek word for herpes (see reference # 8 in his attached letter).
THE EDITOR kindly asked me to comment on an unusual paper suggesting we rename Herpes virus “Habita virus”, a paper imaginatively conceived, adroitly executed and very well written.[^1] In it, the authors evince four reasons to support their suggestion: lack of congruence between the etymological history of “herpes” and its dermatological appearance; sociological and psychological stigma; potential confusion concerning first the different herpetic diseases and second an unrelated virus, Hepeviridae, a virus associated with diseases of the liver.
Full text of Dr. Ratzan’s letter: Countering Herpes- A Commentary
Dr. Ratzan’s 1970 Letter to the NEJM: Ratzan NEJM