The World Health Organization has announced that monkeypox will now be called “mpox”. This new name will completely replace “monkeypox” after a one-year transition period.
A name that is too stigmatizing and misleading. Monkey pox, or “monkeypox” in English, will now be called “mpox”, including in other languages, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Monday.
The two names will coexist for a period of a year before the term “monkeypox” is dropped, although it can still be searched for in the international classification of diseases, the health authority said.
“This serves to alleviate concerns raised by experts about confusion caused by a name change in the midst of a global outbreak,” the WHO explained.
“The question of the use of the new name in different languages has been discussed at length. The preferred term mpox may be used in other languages,” the WHO said.
If this name were to pose a problem in one language, the WHO would then launch consultations with the competent government authorities and the scientific societies concerned, before deciding.
A virus found in rodents
When the outbreak of monkeypox cases emerged from spring 2022 “racist and stigmatizing language online, in other settings and in some communities was observed and reported to WHO”.
A certain number of countries, individuals or organizations have thus requested a change of name, recalls the organization.
This is the case of the city of New York, which, at the end of July, was already asking to be renamed. The city’s health commissioner had judged that this “terminology” was “rooted in a racist and painful history for communities of color”.
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.
The spread in humans was until the spring limited to certain West African countries where it is endemic.
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. In France (more than 4000 confirmed cases), the epidemic has been declining for a few months but has not disappeared. In its update on November 15, Sante Publique France underlines that “the weekly number of confirmed cases has fallen below the threshold of 5 cases”.
Source: BFM TV