News That Matters

California Health Officials Now Referring To Monkeypox As ‘Mpox’ And ‘MPX’ As Calls Mount To Rename Disease


Topline

Health officials in California said Friday they will refer to monkeypox as “mpox” or “MPX,” a local TV station reported, amid criticism that the name is stigmatizing and discriminatory.

Key Facts

Researchers at the Montreal men’s health organization RÉZO proposed the name “Mpox” in a WHO forum set up to solicit ideas for a new name for the disease, with director Samuel Miriello telling Reuters “when you remove the monkey imagery, people seem to understand more quickly that there’s an emergency that needs to be taken seriously.”

The WHO recently renamed two variants of the disease formerly called the “Congo” and “West Africa” variants as “clade one” and “clade two.”

Calls to rename the disease intensified in May, with the African Foreign Press Association releasing a statement urging media outlets to stop using images of Black people in their coverage of the disease, while a group of three dozen scientists, including scientists in Africa, wrote a letter one month later calling the name “discriminatory and stigmatizing.”

Last month, officials in New York City also asked for a new name, with city Councilman Erik Bottcher telling CBS News that “just like the name ‘Spanish Flu,’ these names have a loaded meaning.”

Key Background

Monkeypox was largely confined to Africa for decades, but became a global concern in recent months as it spread to 94 countries, with more than 41,000 cases and 12 deaths, according to the WHO. It got its name because it was first discovered in laboratory monkeys in 1958, long before the WHO developed guidelines in 2015 recommending diseases not be named after geographic places, people, occupations or animals. The first human case was detected in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Over the next several decades, cases spread to 11 African countries, linked to travel and animal transfer. In May, outbreaks occurred in the United Kingdom, Portugal and Spain, and have since spread to six continents, with hot spots in the United States, Europe and Brazil, according to the WHO.

Tangent

Former President Donald Trump’s insistence in a tweet on calling Covid-19 the “China virus” led to an increase in anti-Asian social media posts, according to a 2021 study.

Big Number

14,115. That’s the number of confirmed monkeypox cases in the U.S. as of Thursday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.. Cases have been detected in every state except Wyoming, with the most coming in New York (2,744 cases) and California (2,663). There have been no confirmed monkeypox deaths in the U.S.

Further Reading

WHO Calls For Monkeypox Virus Name Change—Here’s Why Scientists Believe It’s Stigmatizing (Forbes)

WHO Renames Monkeypox Variants To Dispel Stigma And Creates Open Forum For Name Change (Forbes)





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