From Monkeypox to Mpox
Colorized transmission electron micrograph of monkeypox particles (purple) found within an infected cell (brown), cultured in the laboratory. Image captured and color-enhanced at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland.

The term monkeypox will be replaced by mpox within the next year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

This follows “racist and stigmatizing language” being used in relation to the large outbreak of mpox for the first time in Europe and the US.

The WHO said it had been approached by a number of individuals and countries that had asked the WHO to propose a way forward to change the name.

“Assigning names to new and, very exceptionally, to existing diseases is the responsibility of WHO under the International Classification of Diseases and the WHO Family of International Health Related Classifications through a consultative process which includes WHO member states,” the WHO said in a statement on Monday.

After consultations to gather views from a range of experts, countries and the general public, who were invited to submit suggestions for new names, the WHO has recommended the name change.

Considerations for the recommendations included rationale, scientific appropriateness, extent of current usage, pronounceability, usability in different languages, absence of geographical or zoological references, and the ease of retrieval of historical scientific information.

Human monkeypox was given its name in 1970 after the virus that causes the disease was discovered in captive monkeys in 1958. This was way before the publication of WHO best practices in naming diseases, in 2015, which recommended that new disease names should minimize the unnecessary negative impact of names on trade, travel, tourism or animal welfare, and avoid causing offence to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional or ethnic groups.

Image Credits: NIAID/Flickr.

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