The WHO is creating an open forum to rename monkeypox over concerns that the current name could be generating stigma and discrimination…
The World Health Organization says it’s holding an open forum to rename the disease monkeypox, after some critics raised concerns the name could be derogatory or have racist or bigoted connotations. According to the organization, the decision aims to “avoid causing offence to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional, or ethnic groups, and minimize any negative impact on trade, travel, tourism or animal welfare.”
WHO said the decision to rename the virus, which may cause fever, body aches, chills, fatigue and pimple-like bumps on many parts of the body, was made following a meeting of scientists last week and the change in direction is in line with current best practices for naming diseases.
In a statement, the UN health agency said it has also renamed two families, or clades, of the virus, using Roman numerals instead of geographic areas, to avoid stigmatization. The version of the disease formerly known as the Congo Basin will now be known as Clade one or I and the West Africa clade will be known as Clade two or II.
WHO said the new names for the monkeypox clades will “take effect immediately.” However, WHO hasn’t given any timeframe on when monkeypox will be officially renamed.
WHO said the monkeypox virus was first named in 1958 when monkeys in a Danish laboratory were observed to have a ‘pox-like’ disease. The organization said this was “before current best practices in naming diseases and viruses were adopted.”
There have been more than 31,000 cases of monkeypox identified globally to date since the beginning of the current outbreak, which started in May. WHO declared the global spread of monkeypox to be an international emergency in July and the United States declared a health emergency at the beginning of August. Canada has not declared an emergency over the virus.
In Canada, as of August 10, 1,059 monkeypox cases have been reported across the country, with Ontario leading the case count with 511 infections, followed by Quebec with 426. The Public Health Agency of Canada is urging gay and bisexual men to practise safe sex and limit the number of their sexual partners as it confronts the monkeypox outbreak.
So far in Canada, the disease has been limited almost exclusively to men — 99 per cent of infected individuals in Canada are male and the median age is 36. Most of the cases reported in Canada have been among men who have sex with men, according to Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer.
For information on vaccine clinics across Canada visit https://gmsh.ca/monkeypox.