The new nickname should not include any potentially offensive meaning, the organization explained.
The World Health Organization has appealed for the public’s help in renaming the monkeypox virus in a way that does not imply any derogatory or racist connotations.
“WHO holds open consultation for new disease name for monkeypox“, said the agency in a statement Friday, inviting people to submit their ideas through an online portal.
Meanwhile, the organization announced that world experts have agreed on new titles for monkeypox virus variants – called clades – to align them with “current best practices,» in particular by using Roman numerals instead of regions.
Virus variants should be named in such a way as to avoid “offend a cultural, social, national, regional, professional or ethnic groupand minimizes the harm that can be inflicted on humans and animals, the WHO explained.
The agency said it had renamed variants of the monkeypox virus and the clade from the Congo Basin in central Africa would now be called Clade one (I) and the old West African clade would be called Clade two (II). .
The WHO announcement comes after New York City’s Chief Health Officer Ashwin Vasan urged the global health watchdog in late July to fast-track the renaming of monkeypox, saying the term carries “potentially devastating and stigmatizing effects on vulnerable communities.”
New York state has become a hotbed of the virus, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting 2,295 cases in the region.
Earlier this month, the monkeypox outbreak was declared a public health emergency in the United States, with Health Secretary Xavier Becerra urging “every American to take monkeypox seriously.” On Saturday, the CDC recorded more than 11,000 cases in the country.
Monkeypox, which is endemic in parts of West and Central Africa, is similar to human smallpox, a disease eradicated in 1980. Early symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion, while sufferers eventually develop distinctive skin lesions. The latest outbreak began in May among gay communities in several European countries.
The effort to rename monkeypox does not represent a new practice for the WHO. In 2021, the agency announced a new naming system for Covid-19 variants that sought to use Greek letters rather than the names of the countries where the different strains were first detected.
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