WHO continues consultations to rename monkeypox

The World Health Organization (WHO) is continuing its consultations in an attempt to rename monkeypox, the current name being deemed stigmatizing for primates as they play a minor role in its spread.

The UN world health agency has, to this end, indicated that it is addressing the public for suggestions. It is to conduct a wide online consultative process to change the name of the disease, deemed misleading and discriminatory, the virus not being linked only to monkeys but also to many other species of animals, in particular rodents .

According to Fadela Chaib, spokesperson for the WHO, “everyone is invited to propose a new name as part of an open consultation via an online platform”. She therefore asked for the public’s help “to find a less stigmatizing name for this rapidly spreading disease”.

To put an end to prejudice

“The objective was to find a name that is not stigmatizing, that does not cause offense and that does not expose any human or animal group to danger,” she added, specifying that the consultation is now open to all via a dedicated website.

Recently in Brazil, media reported that people were starting to attack monkeys for fear of disease, the WHO reported.

Fadela Chaib, in this regard, noted that “monkey pox was given this name before better practices in disease naming were established”.

The simian orthopoxvirus was named when it was discovered in 1958. So is the name of the disease it causes.

WHO renames virus variants

The main variants have been identified according to the geographical regions where they are known to circulate. It should be noted that the WHO announced last Friday that it had renamed the variants of monkeypox, replacing the names of African regions with Roman numerals, which are considered stigmatizing.

A group of global experts convened by the WHO has therefore looked into new names for the variants, as part of the ongoing efforts to rename monkeypox, the virus responsible for the disease, and its variants – or “clades” – according to current best practice.

By common agreement, the old clade from the Congo Basin (Central Africa) is now called clade I and the old clade from West Africa clade II. Furthermore, it was agreed that clade II comprised two subclades.

According to the new nomenclature, the denomination of the lines will be that proposed by the scientists as the epidemic evolves. The experts will be convened again if necessary.

31,000 cases worldwide including 18,000 in Europe

The new clade names are expected to take effect immediately as work continues on disease and virus naming. “But for now, the WHO spokeswoman said, the focus has been on monkeypox and not on other diseases.”

The disease was first discovered in humans in 1970, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Since then, its spread in humans has mainly been limited to certain countries in West and Central Africa, where it is endemic.

But in May, cases of the disease causing fever, muscle aches and large boil-like skin lesions began to spread rapidly around the world, mostly among men who have sex with women. men.

Worldwide, more than 31,600 cases have been confirmed since the start of the year, and 12 people have died, according to the WHO, which has called the outbreak a global health emergency.

If the latter was for a long time limited to ten African countries (388 cases and 7 deaths), the vast majority of new cases were detected elsewhere in the world this year, in particular in Europe (more than 18,000 cases, including two deaths) and in the Americas (more than 1,100 cases including two deaths).

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