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Wednesday, June 15, 2022 – The World Health Organization has announced that it is working with experts to come up with a new name for monkeypox.
The announcement comes after more than 30 scientists wrote last week about the “urgent need for a non-discriminatory and non-stigmatising” name for the virus and the disease it causes.
The scientists said that the continued reference to the virus as African is both inaccurate and discriminatory.
Monkeypox is caused by the monkeypox virus, a member of the same family of viruses as smallpox, although it is much less severe.
About 1,600 cases of the disease have been recorded globally in recent weeks while 72 deaths have been reported in countries where monkeypox was already endemic.
The World Health Organization says it will hold an emergency meeting next week to determine whether to classify the outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern – the highest alarm the UN agency can sound.
The only other diseases the WHO has categorized as such for in the past are Swine flu, polio, Ebola, Zika and Covid.
World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said:
“The outbreak of monkeypox is unusual and concerning.
“For that reason I have decided to convene the Emergency Committee under the international health regulations next week, to assess whether this outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern.”
One new name for the virus that has been suggested by scientists is hMPXV.
Previous outbreaks have been mainly confined to parts of Africa where rodents – not monkeys – are thought to be the main animal host.
The infection causes a rash that looks a bit like chickenpox. The virus can be spread when someone is in close contact with an infected person.