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29 Nov 2022

Monkeypox to be renamed ‘mpox’ following recommendation from WHO

The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity (Doherty Institute) welcomes the recommendation from the WHO to rename 'monkeypox' to 'mpox'. 

A number of Doherty Institute researchers, such as Dr Leon Caly, virologist specialising in public health diagnostics virology at the Royal Melbourne Hospital’s Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL), have been fervent advocates of this name change to help reduce stigma associated with the disease. 

“When the outbreak of monkeypox expanded earlier this year, racist and stigmatising language online, in other settings and in some communities was observed and reported,” the WHO wrote. 

There’s also been a lot of misconceptions about the virus itself. While it was first discovered in monkeys in Copenhagen, Denmark in the late 1950s, the virus actually has several reservoir species, including rodents such as squirrels and striped mice. 

“Given that monkeys are not the primary source of the virus, this change is welcomed and will serve to minimise confusion for those unfamiliar with the virus's history,” Dr Caly said.