Wiki Forum Shorthand

Editor’s note: this Glossary section is for terms related to influenza and the science underlying it. It is not a general science glossary.
MedlinePlus has a medical encyclopedia and dictionary.

antibody (noun)
A category of protein in the blood and on cell surfaces that can stick to invading organisms or chemical to mark them for destruction. The targets of antibodies are called ‘antigens’. Antibodies can be exquisitely selective in what they stick to, using a ‘lock and key’ design to recognize their targets. Some antibodies may be more specific than others in that regard. When your body is infected with a particular strain of influenza, the immune system makes antibodies that are specific to that strain. This takes time, but if you are reinfected, the immune system has learned to recognize the strain and reacts swiftly to handle it. This is called immunity. Antibodies are manufactured by immune system cells called B-cells. When an antibody recognizes something that is a variant of its usual target it is called cross-reactivity, and is usually a weaker response than to the specific antigen the antibody recognizes. Antibodies usually work in concert with other parts of the immune system: T-cells that kill virus infected cells, white blood cells that devour bacteria or the complement system and some others. Antibodies can be generated against almost any chemical or biological entity if it is ‘large enough’ and ‘foreign’ enough. Labeled antibodies are also used in the lab in special diagnostic tests.

antisense RNA [also called negative (–)sense RNA]
Negative sense RNA is the kind of RNA that is the genetic blueprint of the influenza virus. RNA, like DNA, carries genetic information in a sequence of three letters (the genetic code). In our bodies, DNA is double-stranded, with each strand a ‘code mirror image’ of the other. Thus when the cell replicates, the two strands separate and each makes a mirror image copy so the result is two new double-strands just like the first one. In the influenza virus, however, there is a single-strand of RNA. Thus to make a copy of itself it has to do it twice, once to make the mirror image and then a copy of the mirror image to get back to the original sequence of letters. In addition, the viral RNA strand makes a mirror image copy of another kind, called messenger RNA, or mRNA, which is used to make proteins by hijacking the cell’s protein making machinery.

complement and complement system (noun)
A set of proteins in the blood that interact to disarm invading organisms and toxins in a non-specific way, although they may be triggered to work by very specific antibodies. Part of the immune system.

complementary (used to describe DNA and RNA) (adj.)
DNA is a ‘double helix’. Imagine a rubber ladder, twisted—thats a ‘double helix’. Now imagine cutting that ladder in half right up the middle of the rungs. Only, when you cut the rungs, some are cut with a square notch, and some with a triangle notch. If you try to put the rungs back together, they will only fit if you line up the squares and triangles properly. Pieces that can fit together are said to be ‘complementary’. Base pairs complementarity follows the A - T and G - C combinations in DNA, the first using two and the latter three hydrogen bonds. In RNA, A (adenosine) pairs with U (uracil).

conformational changes
Structural changes of a molecule that alters and sometimes eliminates its function.1

highly conserved
Often times the exact shape or detailed structure of a portion of a protein is critically important to its function. In those cases the organism has little flexibility in how it changes. A highly conserved region in a gene or a protein is one that can’t tolerate much change. Mutations that affect it are likely to result in loss of function of the protein. ‘Highly conserved’ is also frequently used to refer to the regions of RNA or DNA that code for that protein. There are highly conserved regions of DNA or RNA that don’t code for anything as well, but why they remain so stable is unknown at present.

hybridize (verb)
fitting a strand of DNA or RNA to fit to another strand of DNA or RNA in a complimentary way.



label [in context of diagnostic tests]
A dye, phosphor or radioactive chemical attached to a biological molecule so that the location of aggregations of that molecule can be detected, either visually or with photographic paper.

mitochondrion [plural mitochondria]
If sugar is the ‘crude oil’ of a cell’s metabolism, the mitochondrion is the refinery. Mitochondria produce ATP (adenosine 5′-triphosphate), and ATP is the main fuel for most activities inside a cell. More technically: an intra-cellular organelle bound by a membrane which can carry out phosphorylation and produce most of the ATP (adenosine 5′-triphosphate) in eucaryotic cells. Like free living bacterium, Mitochondria are about the same size and their DNA within, is also not bound within a membrane.
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Eukaryotic Cell
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Prokaryotic Cell

Unit of measure, abbreviated nm. One billionth of a meter. The average diameter of a human hair is about 80,000 nm. The influenza A virus, in its spherical form, is about 120 nm, intermediate in size for a virus. Thus its size is between that of a 20 nm rhinovirus (a cold virus) and a 200 nm Ebola virus, as seen here. Note that this is more than 100 times smaller than a human red blood cell or ragweed pollen.

pandemic influenza

The genetic material (RNA) of the influenza virus is in eight separate segments. If a cell is co-infected by two viruses of different genetic make-up (either different strains or different sub-types) the eight segments can ‘mix and match’ so that a virus with a new combination of the eight segments is produced. In theory, two viruses each with eight segments can produce 256 different combinations, but all combinations might not be viable. Some of the ‘offspring’ which bud from the host cell thus may have copies of the original genetic from either of the original ‘attacking’ viruses. this phenomenon is called reassortment. Links to some explanations and illustrations here and here.

Genetic material can ‘recombine’ to produce hybrid runs of genetic code that come from two different sources. In the case of influenza virus, one of the RNA segments might exchange pieces of itself with another segment or with the corresponding segment from a co-infecting virus, thus producing a ‘mosaic’ segment (that is, having sequences from two or more segments). The Holliday Model of Genetic Recombination illustrates this for DNA, but similar processes may also take place with RNA influenza viruses. The extent to which this happens is a matter of debate.
homologous recombination



A virus is an infectious agent composed of a single type of nucleic acid, DNA or RNA, enclosed in a coat of protein. They have no cell walls and are so small that they can pass through the ultrafine filters that hold back even the smallest bacteria. Before the advent of the electron microscope, their nature was obscure, although it was suspected that they might be naked genes that had somehow acquired the ability to move from one cell to another. Not only do they have the ability to move from cell to cell, they must move — as obligate parasites, they can reproduce only by invading and taking over other cells, as they lack the cellular machinery for self reproduction. Influenzas are caused by viruses, as are chickenpox, measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis and hepatitis. They are responsible for many important diseases in humans, lower animals and plants, and cannot be killed by antibiotics, the drugs used to kill bacteria.

Western blotting
Technique by which proteins are separated and immobilized on a paper sheet and then analyzed, usually by means of a labeled antibody. more detail

1 cf. Bruce Alberts, Dennis Bray, Julian Lewis, Martin Raff, Keith Roberts, James D. Watson; Molecular Biology of the Cell 3rd edition, Garland Publishing, Inc. 1994, pp.274 (↑)


Flu Acronyms:

AIV: Avian Influenza Virus

H5N1: An avian influenza virus subtype. Experts believe it might mutate into a form that transmits easily from person to person.

HPAI: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza

LPAI: Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza

HA, NA, PA, PB1, PB2, NP, M(or MP): M1 and M2, NS: NS1 and NS2: 8 gene segments of the influenza virus coding for 10 proteins. HA and NA define the serotype, e.g. H5N1

PF51: PandemicFlu H5N1, PanFlu5.1 to differentiate the serotype of this PanFlu from the last two pandemics, PF32 and PF22.

RBD: Receptor Binding Domain - part of the HA-gene of H5N1 responsible for enabling the virus to enter a cell

SEH2H HP H5N1: Sustained Efficient Human to Human Highly Pathogenic H5N1

SNP: Single Nucleotide Polymorphism

(Government) Agencies:

AHAW: Animal Health and Welfare

BOH: Board of Health

CDC: US Centers for Disease Control. A governmental agency in charge of tracking, recording and controlling major infectious diseases.

DHS: Department of Homeland Security — agency in charge of protecting the civilian population of the United States.

DHHS: Same as HHS — Department of Health and Human Services. A major agency of the US Government whose functions are described by its name.

DMAT: Disaster Medical Assistance Team (USA)— Multi-state medical disaster relief teams. They are under the jurisdiction of: National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) - Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) - Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

DMORT: Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team (USA) — This is a Federal Level Response team designed to provide mortuary assistance in the case of a mass fatality incident or cemetery related incident.

DMORT-WMD: Specialized DMORT - Weapons of Mass Destruction — The DMORT-WMD Team is a specialized unit whose function is the search & recovery as well as decontamination of human remains for the ultimate purpose of returning these remains to family members where possible for humanitarian and legal reasons.

NDMS: National Disaster Medical System (USA) — The National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) is a federally coordinated system that augments the Nation’s medical response capability.

DOD: Department of Defense. US Cabinet position responsible for all facets of United States Military defense.

ECDC: European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

EFSA: European Food Safety Authority

ETC: Environmental Technology Council

FAO: Food And Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

FDA: United States — Food and Drug Administration — A division of US Health and Human Services; Consumer Protection and Health Agency

FEMA: Federal Emergency Management Agency — US agency in charge of responding to local emergencies and natural disasters.

IOM: Institute of Medicine; The Institute of Medicine serves as adviser to the nation (USA) to improve health. Established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine provides independent, unbiased, evidence-based advice to policymakers, health professionals, industry, and the public.

NJDHSS: New Jersey Health and Senior Services

OIE: French acronym — World Animal Health Organization — intergovernmental organization created by International Agreement to collect, analyse and disseminate veterinary scientific information.

USGS: United States Geological Survey

WHO: World Health Organization

Medical Shorthand:

CNS: Central Nervous System

EMT: Emergency Medical Technician; a First Responder in almost any emergency.

FP: Family Physician: an MD or DO (four years of medical school or osteopathy school) who has completed an approved three-year residency in Family Medicine; the family physician is also Board-Certified by the American Board of Family Medicine, one of the member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties.

FPLV: Feline Panleukopenia Virus; A species of PARVOVIRUS infecting cats with a highly contagious enteric disease.

GP: General Practitioner; medical doctor who specializes in the overall health of the human body.

LVN: Licensed Vocational Nurse; can perform simple as well as complex medical procedures, but must operate under the supervision of either a professional Registered Nurse (RN) or a physician.

LRT: Licensed Respiratory Technician

Med. Ctr.: Medical Center. Usually a designation for a large teaching hospital. Usually associated with a major University.

NPI: Non-Pharmaceutical Intervention

ORS: ORT: Oral Rehydration Solution or Therapy; oral rehydration salts, or oral electrolytes. A solution to restore liquids in the body, it is a simple, cheap, and effective treatment for excess sweating, vomiting or diarrhea-related dehydration. It consists of a solution of salts and other substances such as glucose, sucrose, citrates or molasses, which is administered orally. An inexpensive home-made solution consists of 8 level teaspoons of sugar and 1 level teaspoon of table salt mixed in 1 liter of water

RN: Registered Nurse - This is the skilled nursing practitioner who is the front line in most US hospitals. They work with the Doctors to dispense medicines, therapies and treatments, record patient conditions and render hands-on care.

RT: Respiratory Technician

Wiki Forum Shorthand:

A list with many acronyms that might not be found below, can be found here.

:-) or (-: or :-D: SMILE! Also: :-(: Bad or frown. Just turn your head.

B2H: Bird To Human Transmission of virus

BIL: Brother-in-law

BOB : A prepared backpack or duffel bag filled with essential items you may want to have with you in an emergency. Can be grabbed quickly if you have to leave your house; also for storing in your car.

BOGO: Buy one, get one free.

BUMP: Added as a Forum thread comment in order to keep a current discussion at the “top of the heap” so others may comment on it.

C2C: Cat To Cat Transmission of virus

C2P: Cat To Pig Transmission of virus

Chicken Little: Character in children’s story about a little chicken who ran around trying to convince every one that the sky was falling (which he truly believed), but no one would listen to him. Usually used insultingly to refer to someone who is panicking unnecessarily.

CFR: Case Fatality Rate (total of deaths divided by total of cases).

CYA: Cover Your Arse

CWP: Concealed Weapons Permit; Issued by local jurisdictions (in the US) allowing private citizens to carry concealed weapons, usually handguns.

DIY: Do It Yourself, the wiki’s ultimate motto ;-)

DD: Dear daughter

DS: Dear son

DH: Dear husband

DW: Dear wife

EMP: Electo-Magnetic Pulse; the Electro-Magnetic radiation from a nuclear explosion, thought to be able to disable all electrical systems within line-of-sight of the detonation.

ESL: English as a Second Language

FIFO: First in, first out. Rotating the food stock on your shelves so that you use the stuff with the oldest expiration date first .Links to some explanations here

FYI: For Your Information

GMA: Good Morning America; morning television show on the ABC television network (US).

H2H: Human To Human Transmission of virus

IIRC: If I Recall/Remember Correctly

IMO: In My Opinion

IMHO: In My Humble Opinion

JIT: Just In Time — especially “just in time delivery,” which might cause widespread problems during a pandemic. Many businesses expect to have regular deliveries of necessary products. Delivery slow-downs or failure will cause problems. For example, water treatment plants don’t stock the chemicals they need to last more than a short time. If the chemicals aren’t delivered, the plant can’t purify water, and their customers will not have clean water.

LOL: Laughing Out Loud


MIL: Mother-in-law

MSM: Mainstream media (Companies / Corporations like CCN, ABC-News, Fox-News)

OTOH: On The Other Hand

PC: Politically Correct — way of communicating so as to not offend anybody or any entity; also, Personal Computer.

PPE: Personal Protection Equipment. Masks such as the N95 or purified air filtering units, gowns, gloves used by professionals to prevent infection or contamination by hazardous substances.

PPF: Personal Pucker Factor. On the Fence- a fluwiki poster- invented “a rating of how worried I was about the bird flu going Kung Fu on us”. Several threads are filled with posters PPF and comments.

PSA: Public Service Announcements on American TV

RMSD: Two meanings— 1. Root-Mean-Square Deviation: command to evaluate the root-mean-square deviation (RMSD) between specified sets of atoms. 2. Removable Media Storage Device: a small, portable digital storage device generally meant to be used with USB-equipped computers; thumb-drive or jump-drive

R0 aka R naught: The other “number” that is frequently mentioned in the influenza case and infectious disease epidemiology is called the Basic Reproductive Number, usually designated by the symbol R0 (pronounced ‘R naught”). It is the expected (average) number of new infectious cases in a completely susceptible population produced by a single case during its entire period of infectiousness. Like transmission probability, this simple definition hides some subtleties. See Disease Transmission Primer.

ROTFLMAO: Rolling On The Floor Laughing My A** Off

RSS: Really Simple Syndication — A format for syndicating news and the content of news-like sites.


SIP: Shelter In Place; To find shelter in a predetermined place of your choice until a threat passes.

snip: snip is used when skipping a piece of text in a long article, to keep the posting short.

TEOTWAWKI: The End Of The World As We Know It; short way of saying “I believe that our way of life is going to change drastically!”


TSHTF: Short way of saying “When the poop hits the fan”. In other words a situation suddenly becomes extremely messy.

TPTB: The Powers That Be. Those un-named/unknown entities that make up the rules.

RWFK: (Bronco Bill’s) Red Wine FLU Killer

WTF: What The F&*#; An expression of exclamation.

YOYO: You’re On Your Own - The position you are in, will be in, if TSHTF (see above).

Computer Technical Acronyms:

AOL: America OnLine

DNS: Domain Name Server; a server on the Internet that translates IP addresses to http verbage used in web browsers to locate Internet web sites more easily.

IP: Internet Protocol; generally used when talking about Internet connectivity—”What’s your IP address?”; also short for TCP/IP, Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol.

ISP: Internet Service Provider; telecomm or cable service providing Internet access to customers.

MSN: Microsoft Network

State, National, and International Location Designations:

CA: The Golden State of California, also referred to as “The Left Coast”. The Golden State.

CT: The great state of Connnecticut, located in Southern New England. The Constitution State.

EU: European Union

Indo: Indonesia

MI: The state of Michigan, located in the Northern midwest. The Wolverine State. Borders with Canada.

OZ: Either Australia or Seattle, Washington, USA; also a Hollywood movie, The Wizard of Oz, 1939

VA: The Commonwealth of Virginia, located along the Eastern Seaboard of the US. The Old Dominion State.

Page last modified on November 29, 2011, at 08:32 AM by none