Sun | Nov 27, 2022

WHO plans to rename monkeypox over stigmatisation concerns

Published:Sunday | August 14, 2022 | 11:31 AM
This image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) shows a colourised transmission electron micrograph of monkeypox particles (red) found within an infected cell (blue), cultured in the laboratory that was captured and colour-enhanced at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland on Friday, August 12, 2022. (NIAID via AP).

LONDON (AP) — The World Health Organization says it's holding an open forum to rename the disease monkeypox, after some critics raised concerns the name could be derogatory or have racist connotations.

In a statement, the WHO said it has also renamed two families, or clades, of the virus, using Roman numerals instead of geographic areas, to avoid stigmatisation.

The version of the disease formerly known as the Congo Basin will now be known as Clade one or I and the West Africa clade will be known as Clade two or II.

WHO said the decision was made following a meeting of scientists this week and in line with current best practices for naming diseases, which aims to “avoid causing offense to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional, or ethnic groups, and minimise any negative impact on trade, travel, tourism or animal welfare.”

Numerous other diseases, including Japanese encephalitis, Marburg virus, Spanish influenza and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome have been named after the geographic areas where they first arose or were identified.

WHO has not publicly suggested changing any of those names.

Monkeypox was first named in 1958 when research monkeys in Denmark were observed to have a “pox-like” disease, although they are not thought to be the animal reservoir.

WHO said it was also opening a way for the public to suggest new names for monkeypox, but did not say when any new name would be announced.

To date, there have been more than 31,000 cases of monkeypox identified globally since May, with the majority of those beyond Africa. Monkeypox has been endemic in parts of central and west Africa for decades and was not known to trigger large outbreaks beyond the continent until May.

Follow The Gleaner on Twitter and Instagram @JamaicaGleaner and on Facebook @GleanerJamaica. Send us a message on WhatsApp at 1-876-499-0169 or email us at onlinefeedback@gleanerjm.com or editors@gleanerjm.com.