The World Health Organization stated on Monday that monkeypox will be renamed mpox in English to reduce stigma associated with the current moniker.
The virus that causes monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 in monkeys kept for research in Denmark, hence the term “monkeypox”. However, the disease is found in a number of animals, and most frequently in rodents.
“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,” the agency said in a statement.
“WHO will adopt the term mpox in its communications, and encourages others to follow these recommendations; to minimise any ongoing negative impact of the current name and from adoption of the new name.”
The disease was first discovered in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo; with the spread among humans since then mainly limited to certain West and Central African countries where it is endemic.
But in May, the disease began spreading rapidly around the world, mainly among men who have sex with men; these variant causes fever, muscular aches and large boil-like skin lesions.
Some 81,107 cases and 55 deaths have been reported to the WHO this year, from 110 countries.