Health care workers, wearing protective suits, leave a high-risk area at the French NGO Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without borders) Elwa hospital on August 30, 2014 in Monrovia. Liberia was hardest-hit by the Ebola virus when it raged through west Africa

Yes, we long have referred to disease outbreaks by geographic places. Here's why we shouldn't anymore

Updated 4:50 AM ET, Sat March 28, 2020

(CNN)What's in a (virus) name?

Infectious diseases throughout history have been named for geographic locations where they were thought to have originated: Spanish flu, West Nile virus, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, Zika and Ebola, to name a few.
By that logic, it may seem that there's nothing inherently wrong with referring to the novel coronavirus as the "Wuhan virus" or the "Chinese virus," language which President Donald Trump has used and defended using. Wuhan is, after all, considered the first epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak that has since become a global pandemic.
'Unseen Enemy: Pandemic'

CNN Films' documentary explores how diseases like Zika, Ebola and influenza spread. Watch now on CNNgo.

But the past has shown naming diseases after places can have negative consequences for nations, economies and people.
Here's why scientists and scholars say these naming practices are problematic.

It can be inaccurate or misleading

One reason why scientists and health officials caution against using geographic locations to refer to diseases is that they can turn out to be misleading -- and in some cases, inaccurate.
Take, for example, what's commonly referred to as the Spanish flu.
Despite its name, most researchers agree that the H1N1 virus that swept the world in 1918 and 1919 didn't originate in Spain, although there's