WHO renames monkeypox as mpox due to racism

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WHO renames monkeypox as mpox due to racism

LONDON AP - The World Health Organization has renamed monkeypox as mpox, citing concerns that the original name of the decades-old animal disease could be construed as discriminatory and racist.

The U.N. health agency said on Monday that mpox was its preferred name for monkeypox, saying both monkeypox and mpox would be used for the next year while the old name is phased out.

The WHO said it was concerned by the racist and stigmatizing language that emerged after monkeypox spread to more than 100 countries. It said numerous individuals and countries asked the organization to propose a way forward to change the name. In August of this year, WHO began consulting experts on renaming the disease, shortly after the U.N. agency declared monkeypox to be a global emergency.

There have been more than 80,000 cases identified in countries that had not previously reported the smallpox-related disease. The monkeypox, a disease thought to originate in animals, was not known to trigger large outbreaks beyond central and west Africa until May.

Nearly all of the cases in Africa have been in gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men. After spreading via sex at raves in Belgium and Spain, scientists believe monkeypox triggered outbreaks in Western countries. After it hit a peak in the summer, a vaccine effort in rich countries has brought the disease under control, along with targeted control interventions.

In Africa, the disease mainly affects people in contact with infected animals such as rodents and squirrels. The majority of monkeypox deaths have been in Africa, where there are almost no vaccines available.

U.S. health officials have warned that it may be impossible to eliminate the disease there, warning it could be a serious threat for gay and bisexual men for years to come.

CDC says that a vaccine appears to protect against monkeypox.

The FDA warns that monkeypox could mutate and become resistant to the antiviral drug Tpoxx.

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

Although WHO has named numerous new diseases shortly after they emerged, including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS and COVID - 19, this appears to be the first time the agency has tried to rechristen a disease that was first named.

Numerous other diseases, including Japanese encephalitis, German measles, Marburg virus and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, have been named after geographic regions, which could now be considered prejudicial. WHO hasn't suggested changing any of those names.