The decades-old animal disease’s original name, monkeypox, has been changed to mpox by the World Health Organization because of concerns that it can be interpreted as discriminatory and racist.
The U.N. Monkeypox will continue to be referred to as monkeypox for the upcoming year as the old name is phased out, the health service stated in a statement on Monday.
The “racist and stigmatizing rhetoric” that developed after monkeypox spread to more than 100 nations disturbed WHO, according to their statement.
According to the report, numerous people and nations asked the group “to offer a way forward to change the name.”
Soon after the U.N., WHO started talking to specialists about renaming the illness in August. the agency deemed the outbreak of monkeypox to be a worldwide emergency.
Numerous nations that had not previously reported the disease linked to smallpox have had more than 80,000 cases.
Monkeypox, a disease assumed to have animal origins, was not known to cause significant outbreaks outside central and west Africa until May.
Nearly all cases outside of Africa have involved gay, bisexual, or other men who have intercourse with men.
Scientists contend that sexual transmission caused monkeypox epidemics in Western nations during two raves in Belgium and Spain.
The disease has mainly been brought under control through targeted control initiatives and vaccination campaigns in wealthy countries.
The illness primarily affects people in Africa who come into contact with infected rats and squirrels.
In Africa, where almost no immunizations are available, monkeypox has been the primary cause of fatalities.
Health professionals in the United States have cautioned that it might not be feasible to eradicate the illness there and that it could continue to be a hazard for years to come, mainly to homosexual and bisexual males.
Monkeypox was given its original moniker in 1958 after a study of monkeys in Denmark found to have a “pox-like” illness, even though it is not believed that they represent the disease’s animal reservoir.
This appears to be the first time the WHO has attempted to rename an illness decades after it was initially recognized, even though the organization has called other new diseases shortly after they first appeared, including COVID-19 and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
Numerous additional illnesses, such as Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, Marburg virus, Japanese encephalitis, and German measles, have been given place names, which is potentially perhaps discriminatory.
None of the characters have been suggested for change by WHO.