WHO to rename monkeypox — Analysis

According to the company, any offensive meanings should be avoided in the new moniker.

The World Health Organization asked for the public’s help to rename monkeypox in a manner that does not suggest any racist or derogatory connotations.

WHO will hold an open consultation to find a new name for monkeypox,” the agency said in a statement on Friday, inviting people to submit their ideas through an online portal.

Meanwhile, the organization announced that global experts have agreed on new titles for monkeypox virus variants – called clades – to align them with “current best practices,” in particular by using Roman numerals instead of regions.

Virus variants should be named in such a way that avoids “Inflicting offense on any culture, ethnic, national, professional or other group,” and reduces to a minimum the harm it may inflict upon humans and animals, the WHO explained.

The agency said it has renamed variants of the monkeypox virus and that central Africa’s Congo Basin clade will henceforth be called Clade one (I) and the former West African clade will be referred to as Clade two (II).

US declares public health emergency

The WHO announcement comes after New York City’s health chief Ashwin Vasan urged in late July the global health watchdog to speed up the renaming of monkeypox, saying that the term carries “potentially damaging and stigmatizing effect on vulnerable populations.”

New York is a state that has seen a rise in cases of the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 2,295 cases.

Earlier this month, the monkeypox outbreak was declared a public health emergency in the US, with Health Secretary Xavier Becerra urging “Every American should take the monkeypox seriously.” As of Saturday, the CDC has registered more than 11,000 of cases in the country.

Monkeypox is found in West Africa and Central Africa. This disease is very similar to smallpox. Initial symptoms are fever, headaches, muscle aches and backache. Eventually, those who have it will develop distinct skin lesions. In May, the latest epidemic was reported among several European gay communities.

It isn’t a new idea for WHO to try and rename monkeypox. The WHO announced in 2021 a new system of naming Covid-19 strains. It used Greek letters instead of names from the country where they were discovered.

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