UN health body invites public to suggest new name for monkeypox

Global experts have agreed to refer to monkeypox virus variants by Roman numerals.

UN health body invites public to suggest new name for monkeypox

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday invited the public to suggest a new name for monkeypox after a group of scientists said the current name suggests the disease is an African problem.

"WHO is holding an open consultation for a new disease name for monkeypox," said WHO spokesperson Fadela Chaib at a UN press conference noting that a final date for the renaming has not been set.

"Anyone from the public, academia, or civil society is welcome to propose new names. There is a platform on the WHO website where people can suggest names," she said, explaining that governments can make suggestions.

The link for making such proposals is https://icd.who.int/dev11.

Chaib said: "It's very important that we find a new name for monkeypox because this is best practice so as not to create an offense to any ethnic group, a region, a country, an animal, etc."

Last week, global experts convened by the World Health Organization agreed on new names for monkeypox virus variants to align the terms of disease, virus, and variants -- or clades "with current best practices."

The experts agreed to name the clades or variants using Roman numerals.

The former Congo Basin (Central African) monkeypox clade will now be known as Clade I and the former West African clade as Clade II.

Additionally, it was agreed that Clade II consists of two subclades, the WHO said.

"The monkeypox virus was named upon first discovery in 1958 before current best practices in naming diseases and viruses were adopted," said the WHO.

"Major variants were identified by the geographic regions where they were known to circulate."

At his last media briefing on July 27, WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus spoke about monkeypox.

"Although 98% of cases so far are among men who have sex with men, anyone exposed can get monkeypox, which is why WHO recommends that countries take action to reduce the risk of transmission to other vulnerable groups, including children, pregnant women, and those who are immunosuppressed," he said.

“In addition to transmission through sexual contact, monkeypox can be spread in households through close contact between people, such as hugging and kissing, and on contaminated towels or bedding," Tedros added.