The virus particle that causes mpox is shown in a cut-out view, revealing its inner dumbbell-shaped core containing the virus's DNA. CDC/Image Point FR/BSIP/Universal Images Group/Getty
A Pox by Any Other Name
The WHO rolled out the new, not-too-creative name for monkeypox yesterday: mpox.
Why did WHO change the name?Soon after this year’s outbreak began spreading globally, “racist and stigmatizing language” began spreading online and in some communities, the WHO said in a statement. The agency then began receiving requests for a name change.
Slow and fast:WHO said mpox is the “preferred term” and will replace monkeypox after a yearlong transition period to avoid confusion during the global outbreak.
Usually a disease name change takes place over years, and WHO acknowledged it accelerated this renaming, according to STAT.
The disease was named in 1970 when it was observed in captive monkeys, though its actual origin isn’t known, CNN reports.
The old name endures:While the disease name is changing to mpox, the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses has signaled the virus name will continue to include “monkeypox,” STAT’s Helen Branswell reports. ICTV members are worried about a name change’s impact on “the continuity of the scientific literature.”
The tweet:“A name change while necessary feels like ‘majoring in the minors’, if this is the only change that comes out of the global outbreak,” tweeted Emory infectious diseases physician BT Titanji. “The needle has barely moved for access to vaccines, treatment & diagnostics in LMICs. These matter more!”