The world has recently seen an outbreak of monkeypox, with Fox News reporting that there were at least 70 cases in the United States as of Wednesday.
Yet rather than simply focusing on fighting the disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that it will also be fighting to change the illness’ name.
Name said to be “discriminatory and stigmatizing”
According to Fox News, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus addressed the supposed need for a name change during a press briefing on Tuesday.
“WHO is also working with partners and experts from around the world on changing the name of monkeypox virus, its clades and the disease it causes,” Dr. Ghebreyesus was quoted as saying.
He then went on to promise that an announcement regarding the disease’s new name will be made “as soon as possible.”
That move comes after a group of 30 scientists issued a letter last week in which they warned that “monkeypox” is a term that some find “discriminatory and stigmatizing.”
“The prevailing perception in the international media and scientific literature is that MPXV is endemic in people in some African countries,” they wrote.
“However, it is well established that nearly all MPXV outbreaks in Africa before the 2022 outbreak, have been the result of spillover from animals to humans and only rarely have there been reports of sustained human-to-human transmissions,” the scientists continued.
“In the context of the current global outbreak, continued reference to, and nomenclature of this virus being African is not only inaccurate but is also discriminatory and stigmatizing,” they concluded.
First human case observed in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Fox News noted that while the WHO currently describes two types of monkeypox, with “one identified in West Africa (WA) and one in the Congo Basin (CB) region,” the scientists say that this too should change.
They argue that such labels run “counter to the best practice of avoiding geographic locations in the nomenclature of diseases and disease groups.”
Fox News cited the CDC as stating that monkeypox was first identified at a Danish research facility in 1958, although the first human case was observed a dozen years later in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.