Earlier this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced plans to rename monkeypox. This was due to complaints that the old name was associated with racist and stigmatizing language. In August, WHO launched a global crowdsourcing process to find a new name for the disease. They invited experts, government authorities and the general public to submit suggestions. Eventually, more than 200 proposals were received and reviewed.
The WHO announced a change to the name of monkeypox on Monday. The new name will be mpox, and mpox will become the official term in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), the global standard for health data.
WHO consulted experts from around the world and held meetings with officials in 45 countries. They considered scientific adequacy and pronounceability, as well as the ease of retrieval of historical scientific information. They also considered whether it was possible to make the new name more accessible to people from different languages. In addition, the organization considered the extent of usage of the old name.
The name of monkeypox was given to the virus after it was discovered in 1958 in captive monkeys. It was later discovered that the virus could spread to humans. The virus was mostly found in rodents and other non-human primates, but it could also be found in humans. The virus causes painful rashes, fevers and lesions. It can be prevented with a vaccine. However, it rarely causes fatalities. The disease is most common in Africa, where it is commonly transmitted by direct contact with wild animals. It can be prevented by avoiding contact with infected people. The symptoms of monkeypox usually begin as a mild fever, but it can progress to more serious conditions. Some people who contract monkeypox have high fevers and painful lesions. It is recommended that people cover the rash until it heals. It is also important to isolate those who are infected until their symptoms improve.
A group of international scientists wrote a lengthy paper arguing for the change. The change was also backed by the United States and several other countries and bodies. However, a global health equity advocate has mixed feelings about the change. He said he hoped that it would help reduce the negative impacts of the new name. He said the name is associated with racist stereotypes about Africa. He also said he fears that renaming the disease could help perpetuate stigma.
The new name will be formally included in the next iteration of the ICD. It will be used for one year and then be phased out. It will remain searchable in the ICD. However, the original name of monkeypox will be phased out after one year.
The World Health Organization also consulted with U.S. officials, including Vice President Joe Biden. He said his administration has supported the change, and he has privately encouraged WHO leaders to follow the recommendation. In addition, some federal health officials have used the word “mpox” in meetings and presentations.