Monkeypox Could Soon Be Renamed Over Stigmatization Concerns

Amanda Vining,Aug. 15, 2022 2:48 pm EST,1,763

Monkeypox, the latest highly infectious virus to spread across the globe, may soon receive a new name, according to U.S. News & World Report. Due to racial tensions behind the current name for the virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that it will soon release new terminology to refer to the virus. The decision to rename the virus is in alignment with best practices for naming diseases, as well as ethical standards for eliminating racial connotations.

"The naming of virus species is the responsibility of the International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV), which has a process underway for the name of the monkeypox virus," says the statement released by the WHO on August 12, 2022. The statement describes how when the monkeypox virus was first discovered in 1958, best practices for naming diseases weren't yet in place. In response to the changing of the monkeypox virus name in 2022, the statement goes on to say, "Current best practise is that newly-identified viruses, related disease, and virus variants should be given names with the aim to avoid causing offense to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional, or ethnic groups, and minimize any negative impact on trade, travel, tourism or animal welfare." The WHO officially declared monkeypox a global public health emergency on July 23, 2022.

New symptoms have been identified

There are over 11,000 cases of monkeypox that have been identified in the United States as of August 12, 2022, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The virus has continued to spread and cases have now been confirmed in every state except for Wyoming. With the spread of the virus, new symptoms of monkeypox have been identified, reports MedicalNewsToday. These include rectal pain and pain while trying to pass stools, in addition to classic symptoms of monkeypox, like fever, blisters, headache, fatigue, excessive sweating, and swollen lymph nodes. The skin lesions, or pox, that are a hallmark symptom of monkeypox have been found to be present across the body in new cases, with most lesion outbreaks emphasized in the face, hands, feet, and genital area (via WHO).

Since monkeypox is passed through skin-to-skin contact with another person, the best way to prevent the spread of the virus is to avoid physical contact with other people, as per National Public Radio (NPR). While it may be inevitable to avoid physical contact with every single person, be mindful of not going into crowded public spaces, like concerts or nightclubs. Particularly during the summer months when more skin is exposed due to wearing short sleeve shirts, shorts, and swimsuits. Be aware of your surroundings. If you suspect that you have monkeypox, seek medical attention immediately, and isolate yourself from others so that the virus doesn't spread.