Public health experts worry that stigma may keep people from getting tested and vaccinated. A new name will help reduce the spread of the disease, but it must come quickly, they say.

But that was months ago.

Typically, a scientist who identifies a virus can suggest a name. Nomenclature of species is the responsibility of the World Health Organization. International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses.

Scientists have been calling this virus “monkey disease” for 64 years.

In 1958Researcher Preben von Magnus and his team in Copenhagen, Denmark, discovered two outbreaks of “pox-like disease” in an area where crab-eating macaque monkeys were used in research and development of the polio vaccine.
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The first human monkey disease was not documented. Until 1970. Scientists Issue found In a 9-month-old child in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The child was cured of monkeypox but died of measles six days later. After that, cases of painful diseases They have been reported. West and Central Africa.
Cases elsewhere were almost all travel-related; According to the CDC. But In 2018The agency said that in the past ten years, large numbers of human cases have been reported in countries that have not seen the disease. He said this outbreak is a “global health security threat”.

The global name change began this year after outbreaks in countries where monkeypox was not known.

New names for old viruses

The naming process was already underway to reconsider the names of all orthopoxvirus species, the WHO said in an email to CNN, including cowpox, hornpox, camelpox, raccoonpox and scanpox, as well as monkeypox.

According to Colin McInnes, a member of the WHO taxonomy committee, the panel “has the mandate to bring virus species names into line with the way most life forms are named.”

Blacks and Hispanics are more likely to get measles but less likely to get vaccinated.

Traditionally, the pox virus was named after the animal in which the disease first appeared, but it has created some inconsistencies, he said.

Monkey disease did not start with monkeys. The origin is still unknown. of A virus can be found In other animal species such as Gambian giant rats, dormice and two species of squirrels.
MacInnes, deputy director and chief scientist at the Morden Group, which develops vaccines and tests for pets and other animals, studies sugarpox — which may also be the reason for the name change. He He has been watching The potential to develop a vaccine against a virus that could be fatal to red squirrels in the UK.

The current “monkey disease virus” and others are called “orthopoxvirus ‘things,'” he said in an email to CNN.

McInnes writes, “It’s the ‘thing’ that’s being debated at the moment.”

Some scientists have said they prefer to keep the monkey’s name to preserve their 50-year published research relationship. Others want a completely different name.

The WHO committee has until June 2023 to suggest changes.

In August, A group of experts from the World Health Organization has announced new names for a clade or monkey disease. Before more modern conventions about names were introduced, scientists named the variety for the region where it originated and spread.

It is now called Congo Basin Clade 1 to avoid any stigma that comes with naming a disease for a region or country. The former is West African clade 2. A sub-variant, clade IIb, is predominantly circulating in current outbreaks.

Dangerous isolation

Many scientists say the WHO needs to do more urgently.

In JulyAfter weeks of no action, the New York City Health Commissioner He sent a letter. He urged the WHO to “act now before it is too late”. He noted that “messaging around the ‘monkey disease’ virus is a growing concern for the devastation and isolation it can inflict on these already vulnerable communities.”
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As the epidemic affects gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men, stigma remains a continuing concern, WHO director-general Theodore Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

“Stigma and discrimination can be as dangerous as any virus.” Tedros said. In July, when he declared monkey disease a global health emergency.
It is the virus in the US It disproportionately affects blacks and Hispanics, according to the CDC. Local public health data show that fewer people in both communities are getting the monkeypox vaccine.

Experts worry that in addition to the barriers that make access to any type of health care difficult, some people may not get the vaccine or get tested because of the stigma associated with the disease.

Dozens of suggestions

in the WHO 2015 In naming conventions, the organization urged people who name diseases to avoid stigmatization of places, names, jobs and animals.
In August, the World Health Organization encouraged those interested in coming up with new names for monkey diseases to submit suggestions. His website. More than 180 ideas were submitted, some with extensive creative explanations.

Some — such as Lopox, Ovidpox, Mixipox, and Roxypox — had no explanation.

A handful — such as rodenpox, bonopox, and alaskapox — may be symptomatic.

Johanna Vogel, who introduced “greypox”, wrote that “the name refers to the phenotypic symptom of the disease, the gray blisters, and is not related to the color of the person’s skin or to a place, group or animal.”

Monkey disease outbreaks are on the decline in the U.S., but health leaders say significant challenges remain
Other suggestions come with stronger scientific explanations. Dr. Jeremy Fast, one Emergency medicine doctor A professor of emergency medicine at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard, he proposed changing the name to Oxide-22.

“While the simian virus causing the current pandemic is not a new pathogen, I propose that it be renamed as a public health emergency of international concern,” Fast wrote in his opinion. Although this particular lineage of the virus appears to date back to 2022, using this year “could limit confusion,” he said.

Opoxide-22, while dropping the “monkey” from its name, reflects what is known about the virus.

Faust said he was troubled by the misnomer and the stigma it conveys. But he said he submitted his name while waiting for another job to be completed.

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“I was just procrastinating, to be honest,” Faust said.

The World Health Organization says that if it chooses the name, it could help more people seek treatment, diagnosis and care.

“This is important,” Faust said. “The right name should be dry, technical, boring, so people aren’t afraid to say they have that problem, right?”

Rossi Hasad, Prof Fellows at Mercy College of Research and Statistics and the American College of Epidemiology have submitted a few names, including zpox-22, zopox-22, zovid-22, hpox22, and hpi-22.

His proposal, he argued, would remove the word “monkey” from zoonosis — meaning a disease that can be transmitted from animals to humans — and be more inclusive since we’re not sure where the virus came from.

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Adding “22” reflects the year scientists learned about this “unusual and worrisome human-to-human transmission of the epidemic,” the proposal says.

Hassad said he was inspired to come up with the names because the word “monkey” can carry many negative connotations.

“It has been used in racial and racist slurs against certain groups. I think it would be a lie to not know the damage this word has done,” he said. “It’s also not scientifically accurate. It’s a misnomer. If we want to be scientific, we have to be accurate.”

“One day late and one dollar short.”

Some US health departments are not keeping up with WHO, but the change is inconsistent.

San Francisco Health Department calls It’s MPX.. She calls it Chicago. MPV Other cities, including Houston, New York City And PhiladelphiaLike the CDC, they stuck with the traditional name.

Daniel Drifin, an advocate for HIV patients and an advisor to NMAC, a national organization working to end the HIV epidemic for health equity and racial justice, hopes that the name will be changed. At the same time, he regretted that the pressure for change did not start until the outbreak of this epidemic, where people outside of Africa were affected on a large scale.

“It’s a name steeped in racism. It’s a day late and a dollar short. But I support the change and I think it’s going to be worthwhile,” Drifin said. “Think about the populations that continue to be disproportionately affected by this disease. It’s been black and brown people, so if we can remove racist attitudes of oppression from the list, I think we should do that.”

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