WHO announces ‘monkeypox’ has a new name: ‘mpox’

The World Health Organization is changing the preferred name for the ‘monkeypox’ virus to mpox, CNN reports. The organization cites concerns about “racist and stigmatizing language” in its statement about the name change.  

“Both names will be used simultaneously for one year while ‘monkeypox’ is phased out,” the organization said in the Monday announcement. In response, the Biden administration said they “welcome the change,” and officials will use the new name “from this point forward,” per CNN. 

Since the beginning of the recent outbreak, experts have pushed for WHO to consider a name change to avoid perpetuating discrimination and stigmas that would lead some to avoid testing and vaccination. Stigma has been a concern for scientists, as the outbreak overwhelmingly affected men who have sex with men. Data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the outbreak has disproportionately affected Black and Hispanic people in the United States. WHO began consulting with experts about renaming the illness Shortly after they declared the monkeypox outbreak a global emergency in August.

Mpox was first discovered in 1958 by researchers from Denmark who observed a “pox-like” disease spreading in their colonies of research monkeys, per the CDC. The origin of the disease remains unclear, but the first human case was recorded in 1970. WHO has named several new diseases shortly after they emerged, but this appears to be the first time they have changed a disease’s names decades after it was initially christened, per The Associated Press.