Oak Hill, WV (WOAY) – The World Health Organization (WHO) is renaming monkeypox as mpox to combat concerns about increasing racist and stigmatizing language as the disease spreads worldwide.
The health agency states that they will continue using monkeypox and mpox for the next year while the old name phases out.
Outside of Africa, nearly all cases have been in gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men.
Scientists believe monkeypox triggered outbreaks in Western countries after spreading via sex at two raves in Belgium and Spain.
Vaccination efforts in wealthy countries and targeted control interventions have brought the disease under control following its peak during the summer.
In Africa, the disease mainly affects people in contact with infected animals, such as rodents and squirrels.
The majority of monkeypox-related deaths have occurred in Africa where there is little to no access to vaccines for the illness.
Although WHO has named numerous new diseases after discovering them, this is the first time the agency has renamed a disease decades after its discovery.