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WHO renames Monkeypox to “Mpox” to prevent misinterpretations


WHO renames Monkeypox to “Mpox”

As announced by World Health Organization (WHO), Monkeypox has been given a new name to disease by the name “Mpox” to avoid stigma and prevent discrimination.

WHO announced it intended to rename the disease in June after concerns were raised that its original name has been misleading people and creating a stigma and ample discrimination with a crowd-sourcing effort to find a new name in August.

In brief about Mpox

While revealing the reference to non-human primates that dropped. United Nations Health Agency states, “Mpox would become a preferred term, reinstating monkeypox, after a transition in one year. This serves to diminish the concerns raised by experts about the confusion caused by name change amid global outbreaks.”

Adding the key issue is choosing the new name for its usability in different languages, while scientific appropriateness, pronounceability, and absence of geographical or zoological references are among the other considerations.

The several strains of the Mpox virus are renamed to clade I, clade II, and clade IIb respectively.

History of Mpox

The virus that leads to Mpox was previously identified in captive monkeys in 1958. Although, the natural reservoir of disease is still unknown, and it is commonly found in rodents. Scientists have raised concerns about the way outbreaks are covered by media and naming different strains of the virus by reference to various parts of Africa.

Mpox was first identified in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and made headlines in recent months after an unprecedented global outbreak that began in May, predominantly among men who had sex with men.

Similar concerns rose whilst the arrival of new variants during the Covid pandemic, resulting in Covid variants that were given monikers based on the Greek alphabet, rather than the location in which they were first specifically identified.

The United Kingdom alone recorded 3,720 confirmed or probable cases, till 21 November compared to seven between 2018 and 2021.

Expert’s Words

The University of East Anglia welcomed by Prof. Paul Hunter under WHO, states, “Given that monkeys are not the primary source of the virus. The new name is less confusing for people who do not know the background of this infection.”

Prof. Hunter further raises concerns saying, “It is however a shame that one of the driving forces for making this change has been the ‘racist and stigmatizing language used online. Hoping the usage of such language will stop.”

Present Scenario

WHO declared a global health emergency, with the increasing worldwide surge in people developing symptoms, including high fever, skin lesions, and rash.

The 10 countries affected globally are the US (29,001), Brazil (9,905), Spain (7,405), France (4,107), Colombia (3,803), Britain (3,720), Germany (3,672), Peru (3,444), Mexico (3,292), Canada (1,449) and the UK have reported the highest total number of Mpox cases this year. Globally, there are 86 percent of cases.

Since Mat, the UK has reported 3,500 cases with a rollout of vaccines to the group vulnerable helped drive down numbers following a peak in July.

A total of 588 cases were reported last and currently, seventy-one countries have reported no new cases in the past 21 days.

Currently, it emphasizes the need to minimize the unnecessary negative impact on trade, travel, tourism, and animal welfare to avoid offending any cultural, social, national, or ethnic groups.

WHO is keen on adopting the term “Mpox” during its communications and encourages others to follow these recommendations to minimize ant ongoing negative impact of the current name.

The new transition is to prevent the confusion caused by changing the name amid wide spreading outbreaks



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