To avoid racist stereotypes and stigmatization, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended on Monday that the monkeypox virus be renamed "mpox."
Monkeypox, discovered in 1958 and named after the first animal to show symptoms, mostly spread in a group of countries in west and central Africa until this year. In July, the WHO officially declared the multi-country monkeypox outbreak outside of the traditional endemic areas in Africa a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), the highest level of alert that the global health authority can issue. According to the WHO, as of Saturday, 110 member states had reported 81,107 laboratory confirmed cases and 1,526 probable cases, including 55 deaths.
It is the WHO's responsibility to assign names to new and existing diseases through a consultative process, which includes the WHO member states. The consultation on monkeypox has involved representatives from government authorities of 45 different countries, it said. WHO will adopt the term mpox in its communications, and encourages others to follow these recommendations, to minimize any ongoing negative impact of the current name and from adoption of the new name.