UPDATED: WHO to use ‘mpox’ for monkeypox to fight stigma

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GENEVA, Nov 28 (Reuters) – The World Health Organization said on Monday it would start using a new preferred term, ‘mpox’, as a synonym for monkeypox and urged others to follow suit after receiving complaints that the current name for the disease was racist and stigmatising.

“Both names will be used simultaneously for one year while ‘monkeypox’ is phased out,” the global health organisation said.

The WHO launched a public consultation process to find a new name for the disease earlier this year.

One of the more popular proposals was ‘mpox’ or ‘Mpox’ which was put forward by a men’s health organisation RÉZO among others. Its director said at the time that the removal of monkey imagery helped people take the health emergency seriously.

Others were farcical such as ‘Poxy McPoxface’ which alluded to Boaty McBoatface – almost the name of a British polar research vessel after a public vote on the choice.

Monkeypox, discovered in 1958 and named after the first animal to show symptoms, mostly spread in a group of countries in west and central Africa until this year. Now, 110 countries have reported some 80,000 confirmed cases and 55 deaths, according to WHO data.

(Reporting by Shivani Tanna in Bengaluru and Emma Farge in Geneva;)

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