WHO asks the public for help in changing the name of monkeypox | News from the World Health Organization

The World Health Organization has urged the public to come up with a new name for monkeypox, calling for help in finding a less stigmatizing designation for the fast-spreading disease amid concerns over the name.

Experts warn that the name can be stigmatizing for the primates whose name it bears but who play little role in its spread, and for the African continent with which the animals are often associated.

Recently in Brazil, for example, there have been reports of people attacking monkeys for fear of disease.

“Human monkeypox was given its name before current best practice in disease naming,” WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told reporters in Geneva on Tuesday.

“We really want to find a name that is not stigmatizing,” she added, adding that the consultation is now open to everyone via a dedicated space. website.

“It is very important that we come up with a new name for monkeypox as it is best practice not to offend any ethnic group, region, country, animal, etc,” Chaib said.

Monkeypox got its name because the virus was originally identified in monkeys kept for research in Denmark in 1958, but the disease is found in a number of animals, most commonly rodents.

The disease was first discovered in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with human spread since then being mainly limited to certain countries in West and Central Africa where it is endemic.

But in May, cases of the disease, which causes fever, muscle aches and large boil-like skin lesions, began to spread rapidly around the world, mostly among men who have sex with men. .

Worldwide, more than 31,000 cases have been confirmed since the start of the year and 12 people have died, according to the WHO, which has designated the outbreak a global health emergency.

While the virus can jump from animals to humans, WHO experts insist that the recent global spread is due to transmission through close contact between humans.

Name suggestions range from the technical (OPOXID-22, submitted by Harvard Medical School emergency physician Jeremy Faust) to the wacky (Poxy McPoxface, submitted by Andrew Yi in a hint at Boaty McBoatface – almost the name of a ship from British Polar Research after a public vote on the choice).

One of the most popular submissions to date is Mpox, submitted by Samuel Miriello, director of a men’s health organization RÉZO, which already uses the name in its awareness campaigns in Montreal, Canada.

“When you remove the image of the monkey, people seem to understand more quickly that there is an emergency that needs to be taken seriously,” he told Reuters news agency.

Another proposal, TRUMP-22, appeared to refer to former US President Donald Trump, who used the controversial term “Chinese virus” for the new coronavirus, although its author said it meant “toxic eruption of mysterious provenance”. unrecognized of 2022”.

The United Nations health agency announced last week that a group of experts it convened had already agreed on new names for monkeypox virus variants, or clades.

Until now, the two main variants were named after the geographic regions where they were known to circulate, the Congo Basin and West Africa.

Experts agreed to rename them using Roman numerals instead, calling them Clade I and Clade II. A subvariant of Clade II, now known as Clade IIb, is believed to be the main culprit in the ongoing global epidemic.

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