Monkeypox, in English will be renamed mpox, the World Health Organization announced Monday to avoid stigma from its existing name.
Monkeypox gets its name from the 1958 identification of the virus in monkeys kept for research purposes in Denmark, but the disease has been found in a wide variety of animals, most commonly rodents.
“Following a series of consultations with global experts, WHO will begin using a new preferred term ‘mpox’ as a synonym for monkeypox. Both names will be used simultaneously for one year while ‘monkeypox’ is phased out,” the UN health agency said in a statement.
“WHO will adopt the term mpox in its communications, and encourages others to follow these recommendations, to minimize any ongoing negative impact of the current name and from adoption of the new name.”
The disease was first identified in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since then, human infections have been largely confined to certain West and Central African countries where it is endemic.
However, in May, cases of the disease, which causes fever, muscle aches, and large boiled skin lesions, began spreading rapidly around the world.
About 81,107 cases and 55 deaths from 110 countries have been reported to WHO this year.