Public Health Officials Who Didn’t Stop Global Monkeypox Outbreak Now Say the Name Is Problematic
The public health community has many competencies. Reading the room is not one of them.
Professionals in the field responsible for identifying the origins of infectious diseases and preventing their regional and global spread say that monkeypox and its geographically labeled variants require a new name given the murky origins of the latest worldwide outbreak of the virus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) agrees, saying this week that it would start the search for a less offensive name right away.
“WHO is also working with partners and experts from around the world on changing the name of monkeypox virus, its clades and the disease it causes,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a Tuesday press conference. “We will make announcements about the new names as soon as possible.”
His comments came a few days after an international collection of infectious disease researchers issued an open letter calling for a “neutral, non-discriminatory and [sic] non-stigmitizing” naming scheme that forgoes the use of the term monkeypox and the “West African” and “Central African” or “Congo Basin” clades.
“In the context of the current global outbreak, continued reference to, and nomenclature of this virus being African is not only inaccurate but is also discriminatory and stigmatizing,” these researchers wrote.
Their letter takes particular exception to the media’s use of photos showing African monkeypox patients to depict the effects of the disease. And while they admit that the origin of the current global outbreak is still unknown, these researchers said that the use of African-named clades obscures the likely fact that “cross-continent, cryptic human transmission” has been going on for much longer than expected.
Changing the name would combat the possible, but not proven, “narrative in the media and among many scientists that are trying to link the present global outbreak to Africa or West Africa, or Nigeria” they write.
Up until this latest, global outbreak, monkeypox had most commonly infected people in Africa, often after they came into contact with
Article from Reason.com