Monkeypox renamed as mpox
The World Health Organization (WHO) has renamed monkeypox, the decades old animal disease, as mpox, citing concerns that the original could be read as discriminatory and racist. The United Nations health agency said in a statement on Monday that mpox is now the new preferred name for monkeypox, adding that both monkeypox and mpox names would be used for the next one year while the old name gradually phases out.
WHO said it was concerned by the “racist and stigmatizing language that arose after monkeypox spread to more than 100 countries”. It said multiple individuals and countries had asked the organization “to propose a way forward to change the name.” It was in August when WHO had started consulting the experts regarding renaming the disease after the monkeypox’s spread was declared to be a global emergency by the UN agency.
Up till now, there have been more than 80,000 identified cases across dozens of countries, particularly those that had not reported the smallpox-related disease earlier. Until May, monkeypox was not known to cause large outbreaks outside of central and west Africa. Scientists believe that large monkeypox outbreaks triggered outside African nations “in Western countries after spreading via sex at two raves in Belgium and Spain”. U.S. health officials have warned it “may be impossible to eliminate the disease there, warning it could be a continuing threat mainly for gay and bisexual men for years to come”.
Mpox was first named as monkeypox in 1958 when “research monkeys in Denmark were observed to have a “pox-like” disease, although they are not thought to be the disease’s animal reservoir”.
Interestingly, numerous other diseases, including Japanese encephalitis, German measles, Marburg virus and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome have been named based on geographic regions, which can also be considered prejudicial now. WHO has, however, not suggested any changed names for them as of now.