The World Health Organization wants to rename monkeypox and has requested assistance from the public on Tuesday in coming up with a less stigmatising name for the quickly-spreading illness. Concerns about the name of the illness that first made headlines around the world in May have been raised by the UN health agency for weeks. According to experts, the name may be derogatory to the primates it was named after, which have little to do with its spread, as well as to the African continent, with which the animals are frequently associated.

For instance, there have been recent reports of attacks on monkeys in Brazil as a result of disease fears.

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According to WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib, “Human monkeypox was given its name before current best practises in naming diseases.”

She continued, “we really want to find a name that is not stigmatising,” noting that the consultation is now accessible to everyone via a special website.

The virus that causes monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 in Danish research monkeys, hence the name “monkeypox,” but the illness can affect a variety of animals, with rodents being the most commonly affected.

The disease was first identified in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and since then, human transmission has mainly been confined to a small number of endemic West and Central African nations.

However, in May, cases of the illness, which causes fever, aches in the muscles, and large skin lesions that resemble boils, started to spread quickly throughout the world, mostly among men who have sex with other men.

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According to the WHO, which has classified the outbreak as a global health emergency, over 31,000 cases have been confirmed globally since the beginning of the year, and 12 people have died as a result.

Although the virus can spread from animals to humans, WHO experts insist that close human contact is the primary cause of the recent global spread.

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Last week, the UN health agency reported that a panel of experts it had gathered had already decided on new names for the various clades or variants of the monkeypox virus.

The Congo Basin and West Africa, the two main variants’ namesakes, are the geographical areas where they were formerly known to circulate.