WHO phasing out virus name from monkeypox to mpox over 'racist and stigmatizing language'

Monkeypox was named in 1970 after the disease was found in captive monkeys.

Published: November 28, 2022 11:24am

Updated: November 28, 2022 11:47am

The World Health Organization said Monday it will start phasing out the use of the word "monkeypox" in favor of "mpox" due to "racist and stigmatizing language" associated with the disease's name.

"When the outbreak of monkeypox expanded earlier this year, racist and stigmatizing language online, in other settings and in some communities was observed and reported to WHO," the global health group said.

The organization plans on using both names for the next year while phasing out the term "monkeypox."

The process to update names under the WHO's International Classification of Diseases can take up to several years, but the agency said, "In this case, the process was accelerated."

Monkeypox was named in 1970 after the disease was found in captive monkeys. 

The disease, which the WHO said primarily affects "men who have sex with men," has infected more than 29,000 people in the United States during the latest outbreak this year. So far, 14 people have died from the disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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