Monkeypox: WHO wants to change the name of the disease

Monkeypox: WHO wants to change the name of the disease

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) is asking for suggestions for new names for monkeypox

Current best practice is that newly-identified viruses, related disease, and virus variants should be given names with the aim to avoid causing offense to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional, or ethnic groups, and minimize any negative impact on trade, travel, tourism or animal welfare.

Implications for monkeys

On this last point, the stigma of the name given to this disease is already having repercussions for many primates.

At Fundació MONA, since the outbreak of this disease was declared outside Africa, we keep receiving queries from people worried about whether it is safe to visit our facilities, and needless to say that it is 100% safe.

But much worse is what is happening in countries where primates are native: there are already areas where monkeys are being hunted, killed and poisoned for fear of this pox.


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Do you want to submit a name change for monkeypox?

Assigning new names to existing diseases is the responsibility of WHO under the International Classification of Diseases and the WHO Family of International Health Related Classifications (WHO-FIC). WHO is holding an open consultation for the new disease so-called monkeypox. Anyone wishing to propose new names can do so here (see ICD-11, Add proposals). You need to sign in, and the process is not too straightforward, but it is exciting to participate or vote, as it can have a big impact against the stigmatisation of primates.


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