'Monkeypox' Is No More

Disease will now be called mpox
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 28, 2022 12:00 PM CST
'Monkeypox' Is No More
his image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a colorized transmission electron micrograph of monkeypox particles (red) found within an infected cell (blue).   (NIAID via AP, File)

Monkeypox remains a global health threat, but the name itself is going away. The World Health Organization declared Monday that the disease will be called mpox instead, reports the BBC. The health agency says it wants to remove the "racist and stigmatizing language" of the original name. Both monkeypox and mpox will be used in official outlets—including the International Classification of Diseases database—for one year while monkeypox is phased out.

"Mpox is better than monkeypox because it still contains 'pox', which speaks to the physical nature of the disease," Dr. Ifeanyi Nsofor of the Aspen Institute tells NPR. "Removing 'monkey' removes the stigma that monkeypox comes with and deals with the possible misinformation" about its transmission, he added. Authorities say rodents and other small mammals, not monkeys, are the primary source of the virus. The CDC says it can infect a "wide range of mammal species, including monkeys, anteaters, hedgehogs, prairie dogs, squirrels, shrews and dogs."

Human monkeypox got its name in 1970, after a virus discovered in captive monkeys in 1958, per the Hill. Cases surged this year in more than 100 countries around the world, including in the US, prompting a flood of racist and discriminatory images online. Most of the victims in this year's outbreak were homosexual men, but the virus can be spread to anyone through skin-to-skin contact. It has typically been found in central and west Africa. (Read more monkeypox stories.)

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