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The World Health Organization announces that it is organizing an open forum to rename monkeypoxafter some critics raised concerns the name could be seen as discriminatory and stigmatizing.
The WHO said the decision was made after a meeting with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which helps identify best practices for naming new human diseases in order “to avoid offending any cultural, social, national, regional, professional or ethnic groups, and minimize any negative impact on trade, travel, tourism or animal welfare”.
In a press release on Friday, the United Nations Health Agency said he had also renamed two families, or clades, of the virus, using Roman numerals instead of geographic areas, to avoid stigma.
The version of the disease formerly known as the Congo Basin will now be known as Clade one or I and the West African clade will be known as Clade two or II.
The WHO said the new names for the clades will take effect immediately while a new name for the disease and the virus is developed. The WHO said anyone wishing to submit a name suggestion can do so at their website.
The decision comes after a group of scientists in June proposed an “urgent” name change, calling the current name “discriminatory and stigmatizing”.
The new name, they proposed, would minimize “negative impacts on nations, geographic regions, economies and people and which takes into account the evolution and spread of the virus”.
Scientists have come up with a neutral name that captures the evolution of the virus.
“In the context of the current global epidemic, the continued reference and nomenclature of this African virus is not only inaccurate, but also discriminatory and stigmatizing. The most obvious manifestation of this is the use of photos of African patients to describe smallpox lesions in the Northern mainstream media,” they said. in a joint statement.
The Center of Disease Control notes that the source of monkeypox is unknown, although the virus was named in 1958 when two outbreaks of a smallpox-like disease occurred in colonies where monkeys were kept for research.
Before 2022, monkeypox cases were almost always linked to international travel to countries where the disease is common or through imported animals. The first human case dates back to 1970.
“What people need to know very clearly is the transmission that we see happening between humans. It is close contact transmission. So the concern should be where it is transmitted in the human population and what that humans can do to protect themselves from infection and from transmitting it. They certainly should not be attack any animal“WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris said on Tuesday.