Home News WHO wants to rename monkeypox ‘Mpox’, to eliminate controversial name

WHO wants to rename monkeypox ‘Mpox’, to eliminate controversial name

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The monkeypox – “monkeypox” in English – will be called mpox, including in other languages, announced this Monday, November 28 the World Health Organization.

The two names will coexist for a period of a year before the term monkeypox is dropped, although it will still be searchable in the international classification of diseases, said WHO, which has the authority to name new diseases and, very exceptionally, change the name of existing diseases:

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“The issue of using the new name in different languages ​​was discussed at length. The preferred term mpox may be used in other languages ​​».

If this name were to pose a problem in a language, the WHO would initiate consultations with the competent government authorities and the scientific societies concerned, before deciding.

A year of transition

When the outbreak of monkeypox cases emerged from spring 2022 “Racist and stigmatizing language online, in other settings and in certain communities has been observed and reported to WHO”prompting a number of countries and individuals or organizations to request a name change, recalls the organization.

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Mpox will completely replace monkeypox, after a transition period of one year. “This serves to alleviate concerns raised by experts about the confusion caused by a name change in the midst of a global outbreak”.

Monkeypox gets its name from the fact that the virus was originally identified in monkeys for research in Denmark in 1958, but the disease is most commonly found in rodents. It was first reported in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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The spread in humans was until the spring limited to certain West African countries where it is endemic.

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But in May, cases of monkeypox, which causes fever, muscle aches and skin lesions, began to appear rapidly around the world, mostly among men who have sex with men.

Some 81,107 cases and 55 deaths have been reported to WHO this year, from 110 countries.

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