WHO Renames Monkeypox As ‘Mpox’ Amid Racism Concerns

Bhubaneswar: In a bid to help tackle discrimination and stigma, the World Health Organization (WHO) has renamed monkeypox as ‘mpox’.

It had announced its intention to rename the disease in June after concerns were raised that its original name is misleading, stigmatising, and discriminatory and a crowd-sourcing effort to find a new name began in August.

“‘Mpox’ will become a preferred term, replacing monkeypox, after a transition period of one year. This serves to mitigate the concerns raised by experts about the confusion caused by a name change in the midst of a global outbreak,” the UN health agency said in a statement.

The synonym ‘mpox’ will be included in the ICD-10 online in the coming days. It will be a part of the official 2023 release of ICD-11, which is the current global standard for health data, clinical documentation, and statistical aggregation.

The term ‘monkeypox’ will remain a searchable term in ICD, to match historic information.

Notably, the virus that causes ‘mpox’ was first identified in captive monkeys in 1958. However, the natural reservoir of the disease is unknown and it is commonly found in rodents.

The different strains of ‘mpox’ were subsequently renamed clade I, clade II and clade IIb.

To date, there have been more than 80,000 cases identified in dozens of countries that had not previously reported the smallpox-related disease.

Until May, monkeypox, a disease that is thought to originate in animals, was not known to trigger large outbreaks beyond central and west Africa.

Outside of Africa, nearly all cases have been in gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men. Scientists believe monkeypox triggered outbreaks in western countries after spreading via sex at two raves in Belgium and Spain. Vaccination efforts in rich countries, along with targeted control interventions, have mostly brought the disease under control after it peaked in the summer.

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