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The World Health Organization announced, on Tuesday, that it will rename the monkeypox virus, which has infected more than 1,600 people in 39 countries this year, after a group of scientists expressed concerns that the name might be a stigma.
“WHO is also working with partners and experts around the world to change the name of the monkeypox virus, its clusters, and the disease it causes,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press briefing on Tuesday. “We will announce the new names as soon as possible,” he added.
The announcement comes after a group of more than 30 international scientists urged the health community to change the name of the virus last week.
“The prevailing perception in the international media and scientific literature is that MPXV is endemic to people in some African countries. However, it is well established that almost all outbreaks of MPXV in Africa prior to the outbreak in 2022 were the result of spread of animals to humans and there were rarely reports About human-to-human transmission,” the scientists wrote on June 10.
“In the context of the current global outbreak, the continued reference to and categorization of this virus as being African is not only inaccurate but also discriminatory and stigmatizing.”
The World Health Organization lists two known groups of monkeypox on its website, “one identified in West Africa (WA) and one in the Congo Basin (CB) region”.
The group of scientists wrote that the use of this designation “contradicts best practice to avoid geographic locations in naming groups of diseases and diseases.”
WHO: MONKEYPOX becoming ‘established’ in non-endemic countries is a ‘real’ risk
According to the CDC, scientists first discovered monkeypox during two outbreaks of a smallpox-like disease in monkeys at a research facility in Denmark in 1958. The first human case was found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970.
The current largest outbreak is in the UK, where health officials have detected 470 cases.
Human-to-human transmission of the virus occurs primarily through direct contact with infected people or contaminated surfaces.
Hawaii Reports Third Case of Possible MONKEYPOX
Ghebreyesus also said that the World Health Organization will hold an emergency meeting next week to determine whether the spread of monkeypox should be considered a public health emergency worldwide.
“The outbreak of monkeypox is unusual and alarming,” Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday. “For this reason, I have decided to convene a meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee next week to assess whether this outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.”
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The CDC has reported 65 cases of monkeypox in the United States, including 15 in California and 11 in New York.
Monkeypox has similar symptoms to smallpox, but is milder. Infected individuals usually develop flu-like symptoms followed by a rash that turns into lesions.
The World Health Organization has had a turbulent career in recent years, facing accusations that it failed to maintain China’s transparency as the COVID epidemic spread from Wuhan to the world, and then accusations of skipping the Greek letter Xi when naming different types of the virus to avoid. Offending the Chinese Communist leader, President Xi Jinping.