(ORDO NEWS) — The World Health Organization (WHO) is about to change the name of the monkeypox virus in the hope of reducing the stigma and confusion around this pathogen. The changes will also affect the name and the disease caused by the virus.
Scientists believe that naming diseases after geographical places and animals is a bad idea
“WHO is also working with partners and experts from around the world to change the name of the monkeypox virus, its branches and the disease it causes.
We will make announcements on the new names as soon as possible, ” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
As of June 8, more than 1,285 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection have been reported in regions where monkeypox is not common or has not previously been reported, mainly in Europe and North America.
The WHO announced its intention to change the name less than a week after a group of scientists wrote an open letter expressing an “urgent need” to change the wording around the monkeypox virus.
The letter states that the name evokes strong associations with Africa and may lead to discrimination against Africans.
Scientists are also alarmed by the fact that many media outlets are using photographs of Africans to cover the current outbreak in Europe and the US.
The new name of the virus mentioned in the letter is “hMPXV”. But it remains to be seen whether the WHO will accept it.
Previously, diseases were named after the region of distribution (Spanish flu) or animals (swine flu). But in recent years, WHO has decided to abandon this approach, as such names do not reflect the true nature of the disease and may contribute to discrimination against people and countries.
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