WHO weighs name change for monkeypox

The World Health Organization is considering renaming monkeypox to reduce stigma and racism surrounding the virus, Bloomberg reported June 13.

The group said it's working with experts in orthopoxviruses — a family of viruses that includes monkeypox — to determine more appropriate names. 

Naming diseases "should be done with the aim to minimize the negative impact and avoid causing offense to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional or ethnic groups," a WHO spokesperson told Bloomberg.

The move comes after a group of more than 30 international scientists penned a letter June 10, saying there is an urgent need to change the virus's name. 

"The prevailing perception in the international media and scientific literature is that [monkeypox virus] is endemic in people in some African countries," the scientists wrote. "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."

The CDC has reported 65 monkeypox cases in 17 states and the District of Columbia as of June 13. Globally, more than 1,000 people have been affected in the outbreak.

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