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WHO to change name of monkeypox to mpox

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced this week it will start referring to monkeypox disease as “mpox” (pronounced “em-pox”) after the current name drew criticism as evoking racist stereotypes and inviting stigmatization. It is also a misnomer: The virus was first identified in laboratory monkeys but is most likely carried by rodents in the wild.

During a one-year transition period, WHO will use both names. Earlier this year, the agency changed the names of the two different clades, or branches, of monkeypox viruses that had been based on the regions where they were first identified. The Congo Basin clade became clade I and the West African clade, clade II. Weekly monkeypox cases have declined globally since August, but hundreds of cases are still reported every week and health authorities continue to call for at-risk people to be vaccinated.

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