Monkeypox Will Now be Renamed to Mpox

Last Updated on 2022-11-30 , 6:33 pm

Monkeypox who? We only know Mpox now.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) officially renamed monkeypox to mpox on 28 November.

Why Mpox?

“Following a series of consultations with global experts, WHO will begin using a new preferred term, ‘mpox’, as a synonym for monkeypox. Both names will be used simultaneously for one year while ‘monkeypox’ is phased out,” stated the WHO.

They will be using the term ‘mpox’ in all communications from now on, and encourages everyone else to follow this recommendation.

The reason? To avoid stigmatization stemming from the name. Monkeypox has been associated with rodents, and the name has brought negative impacts on patients suffering from this disease.

Held Open Consultation for New Name

Back in August, the WHO held an open consultation for a new name for monkeypox. The public could submit ideas through an online portal.

That came after demands from international scientists and public health officials, who said that the name ‘monkeypox’ led to harmful stigma. Some health departments were already calling it by a different name, like MPV by Chicago health officials.

The WHO also acknowledged that the mpox virus was discovered in 1958, before best practices for naming diseases and viruses were adopted.

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Already Renamed Variants of Mpox

In fact, the renaming process started much earlier.

Back on 8 August, after consulting a group of global experts, the WHO renamed the two dominant variants of monkeypox.

Major variants used to be named according to the regions in which they were prevalent. This tradition is no longer followed since it encourages discrimination.

Of course, that didn’t stop everyone calling COVID-19 the ‘Wuhan Virus’ when it first broke out, but it’s nice to see that such naming practices aren’t followed officially. 

However, given how old mpox is, the two variants continued to hold the names Central African/Congo Basin clade and the West African clade.

These variants were officially renamed Clade I and Clade II, for the Central African/Congo Basin and West African variants respectively.

Mpox, which was first discovered in humans in 1970, started to spread globally in May 2022. Over 81,100 cases and 55 deaths have been reported worldwide in 2022, from 110 countries.

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Featured Image: Berkay Ataseven /