Clinical Microbiology
21 December 2022

Taxonomic Changes for Human Viruses, 2020 to 2022


The classification of viruses remains relevant to several disciplines, including clinical virology. Since the original publication of this review in 2019, many known viruses have undergone taxonomic revisions, and several novel human and animal viruses have been described. Here, we provide an update to our previous reviews of taxonomic changes for disease-causing viruses of humans, covering changes that occurred between 2020 and 2022. As with previous editions, this update was informed by recent advances in virus taxonomy made by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses; the changes and additions noted herein are not all-inclusive.


The discovery and characterization of viruses in modern laboratories is made possible by use of high-throughput molecular methods, including next-generation sequencing. These methods enable determination of viral genome sizes, the number and nature of proteins encoded by viral genomes, and the relatedness of newly discovered viruses to known viruses. Deeper analysis of viral genome sequence data can inform researchers about host tropism and pathogenesis and can assist with identification of genetic variants and uncover potential targets for development of antiviral countermeasures. The collection of information gleaned by genomic analysis, coupled with data gathered by other approaches (e.g., ultrastructural analysis), also influences the categorization and naming of viruses. Older, and now obsolete, naming conventions based on location of discovery or initial endemicity (e.g., West Nile virus, Norwalk virus) of viral diseases (e.g., German measles) can be misleading and may fail to represent an evolving epidemiology. Additionally, geographic-based nomenclature can lead to stigmatization of ethnic groups or populations native to those regions. Such stigmatization extends to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the etiological agent of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) (1). SARS-CoV-2 variants are now designated with numbers (PANGO lineage) or letters of the Greek alphabet (World Health Organization [WHO] label) rather than the location of their initial emergence (2). It is also important to distinguish a virus name from a virus species (and higher taxa). When writing a virus name, it should not be italicized; however, the species and higher taxa names should be italicized. If the virus name includes a proper noun (e.g., a geographic place), then the first letter of the proper noun should be capitalized. Example 1: The species name of the virus called influenza A virus is Alphainfluenzavirus influenzae. The genus and family names of influenza A virus are Alphainfluenzavirus and Orthomyxoviridae, respectively. Example 2: The species name of the virus called Ebola virus (named after the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) is Zaire ebolavirus. The genus and family names of Ebola virus are Ebolavirus and Filoviridae, respectively. For more information about correctly writing virus names and virus species names, please refer to Zerbini et al. (3).
Recognizing viruses and having them correctly referenced in the scientific literature is an increasingly demanding and important challenge. This is especially relevant when it comes to disease-causing viruses of humans, as it is related to their correct diagnostic identification and epidemiologic study. As a contribution to this effort, we reviewed the scientific literature for the identification of new viruses and changes in viral taxonomy between 2020 and 2022. Please note that this review is not all-inclusive, as thousands of changes have been made and not all are relevant to viruses known or likely to cause human disease.


The most recent International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) Master Species List ( was reviewed to identify recent changes (addition of new viruses and renaming of known viruses) affecting humans, and PubMed and Scopus (Elsevier) were queried using the following criteria: virus*[title] AND (taxonomy[title] OR taxonomic[title] OR classification[title] OR nomenclature[title] OR “new viral disease”[title]). The date filter was from 1 January 2020 to 12 December 2022. Criteria for selection of papers were as previously described (4).


As of August 2022, the ICTV currently recognizes 6 realms, 10 kingdoms, 17 phyla, 2 subphyla, 39 classes, 65 orders, 8 suborders, 233 families, 168 subfamilies, 2,606 genera, 84 subgenera, and 10,434 species of viruses. By querying the available scientific literature and the most current ICTV Master Species List (last accessed 25 August 2022), our analysis produced hundreds of potentially new viruses, most being associated with bacteria, plants, and arthropods. Very few new viruses that infect humans and that were given formal taxonomic standing by ICTV were found; however, literature searches uncovered several novel human-pathogenic viruses (e.g., Langya henipavirus, Yezo virus), but their classification has not been formally described by the ICTV, and so they were omitted from this review.
Numerous revisions to known human-associated virus taxonomy were noted and include the revision of several common viruses, including human influenza A, B, and C viruses; human polyomaviruses; and various lyssaviruses, orthobunyaviruses, and orthonairoviruses, among others. The most recent high-profile change to viral nomenclature has been the renaming of monkeypox virus. As of this writing, monkeypox virus is causing an intensifying global outbreak with over 48,000 confirmed cases and 15 deaths. On 12 August 2022, the new WHO designations clade I and clade II replaced the clade designations Congo Basin and West African, respectively. On November 28, 2022, the WHO announced the adoption of the synonym “mpox”, which will replace monkeypox as the official name of that disease. These changes in naming convention is in line with 2015 WHO guidance for the naming of novel human infectious diseases. This guidance outlines best practices to minimize the negative impact of naming pathogens and diseases on places, people, and animals. Tables 1 and 2 list several new viruses and updated taxonomy for already-named viruses, respectively.
TABLE 1 Selected renamed viruses infecting humans from the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses 2021 taxonomy releasea
FamilyGenusSpeciesVirus (abbreviation)ChangeNote(s)Reference
BornaviridaeOrthobornavirusOrthobornavirus bornaenseBorna disease virus (BDV)Renamed; previous name Mammalian 1 orthobornavirus (species)Causes neurological disease in warm-blooded animals, including humans5
HepeviridaePaslahepevirusPaslahepevirus balayaniHepatitis E virus (HEV)Renamed; previous name Orthohepevirus A (species), Orthohepevirus (genus)Causes hepatitis6
KolmioviridaeDeltavirusDeltavirus italienseHepatitis D virus (HDV)Renamed; previous name Hepatitis delta virus (species)Causes hepatitis7
MatonaviridaeRubivirusRubivirus rubellaRubella virus (RuV)Renamed; previous name Rubella virus (species)Causes rubella8
OrthomyxoviridaeAlphainfluenzavirusAlphainfluenzavirus influenzaeInfluenza A virus (FLUAV)Renamed; previous name Influenza A virus (species)Causes respiratory disease (influenza)10
OrthomyxoviridaeBetainfluenzavirusBetainfluenzavirus influenzaeInfluenza B virus (FLUBV)Renamed; previous name Influenza B virus (species)Causes respiratory disease (influenza)10
OrthomyxoviridaeGammainfluenzavirusGammainfluenzavirus influenzaeInfluenza C virus (FLUCV)Renamed: previous name Influenza C virus (species)Causes respiratory disease (influenza)10
OrthomyxoviridaeQuaranjavirusQuaranjavirus quaranfilenseQuaranfil virus (QRFV)Renamed; previous name Quaranfil quaranjavirus (species)A tickborne virus that causes a mild febrile disease11
OrthomyxoviridaeThogotovirusThogotovirus dhorienseDhori virus (DHOV)Renamed; previous name Dhori thogotovirus (species)A tickborne virus that causes a febrile disease with neurological effects 
OrthomyxoviridaeThogotovirusThogotovirus thogotoenseThogoto virus (THOV)Renamed; previous name Thogoto thogotovirus (species)A tickborne virus that causes a febrile disease with neurological effects14
PicobirnaviridaeOrthopicobirnavirusOrthopicobirnavirus hominisHuman picobirnavirus (HPBV)Renamed; previous name Human picobirnavirus (species), Picobirnavirus (genus)Possibly respiratory and gastrointestinal tract diseases16
PolyomaviridaeAlpha-, Beta-, and Deltapolyomavirus3 human polyomavirus species have been assigned to the new genus Alphapolyomavirus; 4 human polyomavirus species have been assigned to the new genus Betapolyomavirus; 4 human polyomavirus species have been assigned to the new genus DeltapolyomavirusVirus names have not changedRenamed; several previous species namesThe 11 human polyomaviruses have been assigned to 3 new genera17
RhabdoviridaeLedantevirusLedantevirus ledantecLeDantec virus (LDV)Renamed; previous name Le Dantec ledantevirus (species)Possible association with disease in patients with fever and hepatosplenomegaly or neurological manifestations18
RhabdoviridaeLyssavirus14 new species designationsVirus names have not changedRenamed; several previous species namesSpecies of the genus Lyssavirus, which includes rabies virus (RABV), have been renamed using the convention Lyssavirus + specific virus. For example, the species name of RABV is Lyssavirus rabies. Many of these viruses cause severe or fatal neurological disease in humans19
RhabdoviridaeTibrovirusTibrovirus congoBas-Congo virus (BASV)Renamed; previous name Bas-Congo tibrovirus (species)Possibly causes hemorrhagic fever20
RhabdoviridaeVesiculovirusVesiculovirus chandipuraChandipura virus (CHPV)Renamed; previous name Chandipura vesiculovirus (species)Causes a short-duration influenza-like illness in humans21
RhabdoviridaeVesiculovirusVesiculovirus indianaVesicular stomatitis Indiana virus (VSIV)Renamed; previous name Indiana vesiculovirus (species)Causes a short-duration influenza-like illness in humans22
RhabdoviridaeVesiculovirusVesiculovirus isfahanIsfahan virus (ISFV)Renamed; previous name Isfahan vesiculovirus (species)Causes a short-duration influenza-like illness in humans23
RhabdoviridaeVesiculovirusVesiculovirus new jerseyVesicular stomatitis New Jersey virus (VSNJV)Renamed; previous name New Jersey vesiculovirus (species)Causes a short-duration influenza-like illness in humans22
RhabdoviridaeVesiculovirusVesiculovirus piryPiry virus (PIRYV)Renamed; previous name Piry vesiculovirus (species)Causes a short-duration influenza-like illness in humans24
Adapted from the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses 2021 taxonomy release (; last accessed 25 August 2022).
TABLE 2 Selected new viruses infecting humans from the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses 2021 taxonomy releasea
FamilyGenusSpeciesVirus (abbreviation)ChangeNote(s)Reference(s)
OrthobunyaviridaeOrthobunyavirus16 new species designations16 new virus namesNewSeveral new orthobunyaviruses have been assigned formal standing in taxonomy; the roles of many of these viruses in human disease have yet to be determined9
OrthomyxoviridaeThogotovirusThogotovirus bourbonenseBourbon virus (BRBV)NewA tickborne virus that causes a febrile disease with rash and cytopenias12
OrthomyxoviridaeThogotovirusThogotovirus ozenseOz virus (OZV)NewUnknown association with disease; antibodies to OZV found in Japanese hunters13
OrthonairoviridaeOrthonairovirus26 new species designations26 new virus namesNewSeveral new orthonairoviruses have been assigned formal standing in taxonomy; the roles of many of these viruses in human disease have yet to be determined9
PhenuiviridaePhlebovirus56 new species designations56 new virus namesNewSeveral new phleboviruses have been assigned formal standing in taxonomy; the roles of these viruses in human disease have yet to be determined9
PhenuiviridaeTanzavirusHuman tanzavirusDar es Salaam virus (DeSV)NewIdentified from a person with fever, headache, back pain, and pollakiuria9, 15
TogaviridaeAlphavirusCaaingua virusCaainguá virus (CAAV)NewPossibly associated with fever, myalgia, headache, and arthralgia25
Adapted from the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses 2021 taxonomy release (; last accessed 25 August 2022).


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Information & Contributors


Published In

cover image Journal of Clinical Microbiology
Journal of Clinical Microbiology
Volume 61Number 126 January 2023
eLocator: e00337-22
Editor: Romney M. Humphries, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
PubMed: 36541768


Published online: 21 December 2022


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  1. virus
  2. virology
  3. taxonomy
  4. classification



Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
Cepheid, Sunnyvale, California, USA


Romney M. Humphries
Vanderbilt University Medical Center


The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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