WHO changes name of smallpox virus after scientists fear it could be “discriminatory and stigmatizing”

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The World Health Organization announced on Tuesday that it would change the name of the smallpox virus, which has infected more than 1,600 people in 39 countries this year, after a number of scientists expressed concern that the name could be stigmatized.

“WHO is also working with partners and experts around the world to change the name of the smallpox virus, its classes and the disease it causes,” World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Gebreius told a news briefing on Tuesday. “We will announce new names soon.”

The announcement came after more than 30 international groups of scientists last week called on the health community to change the name of the virus.

“International media and scientific literature suggest that MPXV is endemic in humans in some African countries. However, by 2022, almost all MPXV epidemics in Africa were the result of animal spreads. There have been reports of human and rarely human-to-human transmission,” he wrote. scientists on June 10th.

“In the context of the current global epidemic, the reference and nomenclature for the African origin of this virus is unclear, as well as discriminatory and stigmatizing.”

At these Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of the monkey smallpox virus are shown in the patient’s hand.
(CDC / Getty Images)

The WHO has listed two well-known groups of monkeys on its website, one in West Africa (WA) and one in the Congo Basin (CB).

The researchers wrote that the use of this nomenclature “contradicts the best practice in the prevention of geographical location in the nomenclature of diseases and disease groups.”

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According to the CDC, scientists first discovered smallpox in 1958 at a Danish research institute after two outbreaks of smallpox in monkeys. The first human case was discovered in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

This image, provided by the Unidad de Microscopía Electrónica del ISCIII in Madrid, on Thursday, May 26, 2022, shows an electron microscope image of the monkey smallpox virus.

This image, provided by the Unidad de Microscopía Electrónica del ISCIII in Madrid, on Thursday, May 26, 2022, shows an electron microscope image of the monkey smallpox virus.
(ISCIII Electron Microscopy Unit, via AP)

The current largest epidemic is in the UK, where health officials have identified 470 cases.

Human-to-human transmission of the virus is primarily through direct contact with infected people or contaminated surfaces.

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Gebraius also said the World Health Organization will hold an emergency meeting next week to determine whether the spread of the monkey disease should be considered a public health emergency around the world.

CIUSSS is preparing a syringe at a monkey vaccination clinic by a public health official in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, June 6, 2022.

CIUSSS is preparing a syringe at a monkey vaccination clinic by a public health official in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, June 6, 2022.
(REUTERS / Christinne Muschi)

On Tuesday, Gebraius said, “Monkey smallpox is unusual and dangerous.” “Therefore, I have decided to convene an emergency committee next week to assess whether this epidemic is an international public health emergency in accordance with international health regulations.”

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The CDC reported 65 cases of monkey disease in the United States, including 15 in California and 11 in New York.

Monkeys have smallpox-like symptoms, but are milder. Infected people usually develop flu-like symptoms, followed by rashes.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been accused in recent years of failing to keep China afloat, with the COVID pandemic spreading from Wuhan to the world and then passing the Greek letter X when naming variants of the virus. China’s communist leader Xi Jinping is offended.

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