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Monkeypox to be renamed 'mpox,' WHO says

Update : 28 Nov 2022, 21:28

The World Health Organization said that it wants to minimize "negative impact" caused by the current name. The virus was first identified in monkeys, but affects a number of other animals.

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Monday that monkeypox is to be renamed "mpox" in English.

"Following a series of consultations with global experts, WHO will begin using a new preferred term 'mpox' as a synonym for monkeypox. Both names will be used simultaneously for one year while 'monkeypox' is phased out," the UN health agency said in a statement.

The monkeypox virus was originally identified in monkeys in 1958, but can infect a number of other animals, and is more frequently found in rodents.

Although global infection numbers have been declining since August, the virus remains a problem in low-income regions.

"WHO will adopt the term mpox in its communications, and encourages others to follow these recommendations, to minimize any ongoing negative impact of the current name and from adoption of the new name," the organization said.

The WHO said that the name was given before the organization had published its "best practices in naming diseases" in 2015.

The disease was first found in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and it remains endemic to parts of western and central Africa.

In May, cases of the disease began to be identified around the world. Some 81,107 cases in 110 countries, including 55 deaths, have been reported to the WHO this year.

The WHO announced in August that it was looking for a "neutral, non-discriminatory, and non-stigmatizing" name for the disease.

The organization said that it wanted to avoid a term that could be used in a racist way, and also hoped to prevent attacks on monkeys, such as one that occurred in Brazil.

The name "mpox" was submitted by Samuel Miriello, director of the REZO men's health organization. He argued that a new name that doesn't invoke "monkey imagery" could help people "understand more quickly that there's an emergency that needs to be taken seriously."

Also in August, the WHO agreed to rename what was formally known as the Congo Basin variant of the virus as "Clade I" and the West African variant as "Clade II."

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