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Monday 20 March 2023 Dublin: 14°C
Alamy Stock Photo Symptoms include a high fever, swollen lymph nodes and a blistery chickenpox-like rash.
# Stigma
WHO to create new name for monkeypox to avoid discrimination
As of 8 June there were a total of 9 confirmed cases here.

THE WORLD HEALTH Organization announced yesterday that it would hold an emergency meeting next week to rename monkeypox and to determine if the outbreak is of international concern.

The UN agency is working to change the name of the disease, which was long confined to Western and Central Africa until more than 1,000 cases were detected in dozens of countries across the world over the last two months.

“The outbreak of monkeypox is unusual and concerning,” World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told journalists.

“For that reason I have decided to convene the Emergency Committee under the international health regulations next week, to assess whether this outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern”.

Tedros added that the “WHO is also working with partners and experts from around the world on changing the name of monkeypox virus… and the disease it causes.”

“We will make announcements about the new names as soon as possible.”

The emergency committee will meet on 23 June to discuss the designation, which is the highest alarm the UN agency can sound.

 The announcement comes after more than 30 scientists wrote last week that there was an “urgent need for a non-discriminatory and non-stigmatising nomenclature for monkeypox”.

 ”In the context of the current global outbreak, continued reference to, and nomenclature of this virus being African is not only inaccurate but is also discriminatory and stigmatising,” they wrote.

While monkeypox was first discovered in macaques, many cases are believed to be transmitted to humans by rodents.

The normal initial symptoms of monkeypox include a high fever, swollen lymph nodes and a blistery chickenpox-like rash.

However, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week that current cases do not always present flu-like symptoms, and rashes are sometimes limited to certain areas.

Tedros said that 1,600 confirmed monkeypox cases and 1,500 suspected cases have been reported to the WHO this year from 39 countries, 32 of which have been recently hit by the virus.

While 72 deaths have been reported in countries where monkeypox was already endemic, none have been seen in the newly affected countries, Tedros said.

“Although WHO is seeking to verify news reports from Brazil of a monkeypox-related death there,” he added.

As of last Friday there were nine cases of monkeypox detected in Ireland.

No mass vaccination 

To fight the global spread, the WHO aims to recommend “tried-and-tested public health tools including surveillance, contact-tracing and isolation of infected patients”.

However, the WHO does not recommend mass vaccination against monkeypox, he said, after the European Union said yesterday it had purchased almost 110,000 vaccine doses.

“While smallpox vaccines are expected to provide some protection against monkeypox, there is limited clinical data, and limited supply,” Tedros told journalists.

“Any decision about whether to use vaccines should be made jointly by individuals who may be at risk and their health care provider, based on an assessment of risks and benefits, on a case-by-case basis.”

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