2 variants of monkeypox are renamed so that they do not include countries: NPR


World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during a press conference during an EU-Africa summit in Brussels on February 18, 2022.

Johanna Geron/AP


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Johanna Geron/AP

2 variants of monkeypox are renamed so that they do not include countries: NPR

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during a press conference during an EU-Africa summit in Brussels on February 18, 2022.

Johanna Geron/AP

The World Health Organization renamed two variants of monkeypox that were named after countries and regions to align with “current best practice”, the agency said.

The new names, Clade I and Clade II, replace the names Congo Basin clade, or variant, and West African clade, respectively. Subsequent variants will be named using Roman numerals for the clade and lowercase letters for the subclade.

“Newly identified viruses, related diseases and virus variants should be given names with the aim of avoiding offense to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional or ethnic group, and to minimize any negative impact on trade , travel, tourism or animal welfare,” the WHO said.

WHO best practice states that new disease names should:

  • Be generic and descriptive, for diseases whose baseline characteristics are unlikely to change much, such as respiratory disease or hepatitis
  • Be specific and descriptive for classifications, such as age, seasonality, severity, origin, and environment (i.e. progressive, winter, juvenile, severe, zoonotic)
  • Be named after the disease-causing pathogen (i.e. coronavirus)
  • Be short and easy to pronounce

Names should not include:

  • Geographic locations (i.e. Spanish Flu)
  • Names of people (i.e. Chron’s disease)
  • Food or animal species (i.e. swine flu, bird flu)
  • References to a culture, industry or population
  • Words that cause unnecessary fear (i.e. unknown, fatal)

The WHO is also accepting proposals to replace the name monkeypox.


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