The World Health Organization has announced that it’s working with experts to come up with a new name for monkeypox.
This comes after calls for a new ‘non-discriminatory and non-stigmatizing’ term for the disease which is common to Africa. The organization also added that’ll as well as renaming the disease itself. the strains will likely be lettered, such as A or B. This will remove any mention of the parts of Africa where the strain of the disease was first spotted.
Last week, over 30 researchers signed a petition stating that there was an urgent need to change its name given the current outbreak. The petition stated, “Continued reference to, and nomenclature of this virus being African is not only inaccurate but is also discriminatory and stigmatizing.”
Head of the WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, confirmed the virus will now be renamed. He said, “the WHO is working with partners and experts from around the world on changing the name of monkeypox virus, its clades, and the disease it causes.
‘We will make announcements about the new names as soon as possible.”
READ MORE: Monkeypox, All You Need To Know
The monkeypox virus was discovered in 1958 in a group of laboratory monkeys in Copenhagen, Denmark. However, due to the regular occurence of the disease in Central and West Africa, the two clades are known as the West African version and the Central African version.
WHO guidelines reject naming viruses geographically over concerns it might spark abusive backlash or potential racism. For example, the SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid) was specifically not called the Wuhan coronavirus, despite it originating in the Chinese city of the same name.