WHO Renames Monkeypox
The World Health Organization announced yesterday it would begin referring to the monkeypox virus as "mpox," the result of a six-month effort to find a nondiscriminatory alternative to avoid stigma. The name "monkeypox" will be phased out over the next year. Read the WHO's statement here.
The change comes after the world's largest outbreak of mpox earlier this year saw more than 80,000 infections and 55 deaths across 110 countries. The majority of those infected were men in the US and Europe who have sex with men, but critics argue mitigation efforts were hampered by false stereotypes associating the virus with Africa and primates. While it was first identified in monkeys (see history), it is found primarily in rodents. It is endemic—or regularly identified—in 10 African countries.
The shift aligns with the WHO's broader 2015 goal of naming diseases without reference to groups of people, animals, or locations. Read the 2015 naming guidelines here.