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The World Health Organization said it was holding a public forum to rename monkeypox after some critics feared the name could be seen as discriminatory and stigmatizing.
The WHO said the decision was made after a meeting with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which helped to identify best practices for naming new human diseases “to avoid offending any culture, society, nation” , regional, professional or ethnic group, and minimise any negative impact on trade, travel, tourism or animal welfare”.
In a statement on Friday, the United Nations health agency said it also renamed two families or branches of the virus using Roman numerals rather than geographic regions to avoid stigma.
Monkeypox: What you need to know about the virus and how to protect yourself
The version of the disease formerly known as the Congo Basin will now be referred to as clade one or one, and the West African clade will be referred to as clade two or two.
The new names for the clades will take effect immediately, while new names are being developed for diseases and viruses, WHO said.WHO says anyone wishing to submit a name suggestion can their website.
The decision comes after a group of scientists proposed an “urgent” name change in June, calling the current name “discriminatory and stigmatizing”.
They proposed that the new name would minimize “negative impacts on countries, geographic regions, economies and people, and take into account the evolution and spread of the virus”.
Scientists came up with a neutral name to capture the evolution of the virus.
“In the context of the current global pandemic, continuing to refer to the virus as an African virus is not only inaccurate, it is also discriminatory and stigmatizing. The most obvious manifestation is the use of pictures of African patients to describe smallpox.” damage,” they said. in a joint statement.
New York Governor: MONKEYPOX is a ‘catastrophic emergency’
The CDC notes that the origin of monkeypox is unclear, although the virus was named in 1958, when two smallpox-like outbreaks occurred in colonies where monkeys were raised for research.
Until 2022, monkeypox cases were almost always associated with international travel or imported animals to countries where the disease is common. The first human cases date back to 1970.
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“What people need to be very clear about is the transmission that we see happening from person to person. It’s close contact transmission. So there should be a focus on where it spreads in the population and what people can do to protect themselves from infection … of course they shouldn’t attack animals,” WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris said on Tuesday.