Monkeypox will soon no longer be called monkeypox
WHO probably wants to follow the scientists’ request and come up with a new name for the monkeypox virus. A “non-discriminatory” designation is sought that also takes into account the new development and spread of the virus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says it is working with experts on a new name for the monkeypox virus. Proposals for new names should be made as soon as possible, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva. 30 scientists had previously asked for a “non-discriminatory” and “non-stigmatizing” name.
In the international media and scientific literature the opinion prevails, according to experts in their statement of assertion, that monkeypox is endemic to humans in some African countries, that is, localized. “However, it has been shown that nearly all monkeypox outbreaks in Africa prior to the 2022 epidemic were the result of animal-to-human transmission,” they write, adding that there have been rare reports of human-to-human transmission. prolonged. Case numbers and epidemiological models suggest that the current global outbreak is underpinned by human-to-human transmission.
Prior to this, the description of the virus as of African origin was “not only imprecise, but also discriminatory and stigmatizing”. This is most evident in the use of photos of African patients to portray smallpox in many media. Although the origin of the new global monkeypox epidemic is still unknown, “there is mounting evidence that the most likely scenario is that cryptic transcontinental transmission to humans has lasted longer than previously thought,” they said. the scientists. The current global outbreak should therefore not be associated with Africa, West Africa or Nigeria.
“Breaking with historical names and associations”
So far, the monkeypox virus has been divided into the West African clade and the Central African or Congo Basin clade. The letter proposes a new classification “which is non-discriminatory and non-stigmatizing and is based on best practices for naming infectious diseases”. This is to minimize unnecessary negative impacts on nations, geographic regions, economies and people and to account for the development and spread of the virus. We must take this opportunity “to break with the name monkeypox and the historical associations associated with this name”. A clear and appropriate name for the virus that caused this outbreak would also facilitate communication without further negative connotations.
Monkeypox is a less dangerous cousin than smallpox, which was eradicated about 40 years ago. The disease begins with a high fever and rapidly progresses to a crusty rash. There are vaccines against the disease. WHO wants to consider declaring an international health emergency due to the growing spread of monkeypox. More than 1,600 cases of monkeypox in 39 countries have been reported to WHO to date.