As the Chinese coronavirus spreads, so does the fear and heightened concerns. While the disease has caused health officials in China to declare an epidemic there, the World Health Organization has not yet declared a pandemic.

Some scientists believe the animal vector to human sickness may have been bats, causing racial vitriol and conspiracy theories to spread about how the supposed eating habits of Chinese people are fueling the disease's spread. A video of a Chinese woman tucking into a bowl of bat soup has gone viral, but it was actually filmed in Micronesia three years ago as part of a travel segment, and hijacked by social media users after the outbreak in Wuhan

Medical ethicist Art Caplan told Boston Public Radio that search engines like Google have an obligation to keep people safe by promoting factual information.

"Google has said in search engines it’s going to try and push legitimate information to the top of the searches, my attitude is, pull it off, it’s an epidemic, we don’t want it to become a pandemic, meaning worldwide," he said. "Get this nonsense out of there. Special circumstances, special rules. Here’s a word: censor it."

Caplan said in some cases, the misinformation has turned violent, with Asian Americans reporting on Twitter xenophobic and racist comments hurled towards them in public places as fears heighten about the spread of the disease.

Art Caplan is the Drs. William F and Virginia Connolly Mitty Chair, and director of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center.