LONDON (AP) — The World Health Organization is holding an open forum to rename the disease monkeypox, after some critics raised concerns the name could be derogatory or have racist connotations.
In a statement Friday, the U.N. health agency said it has also renamed two families, or clades of the virus, using Roman numerals instead of geographic areas, to avoid stigmatization.
WHO said the decision was made following a meeting of scientists this week and in line with current best practices for naming diseases, which aims to avoid causing offense based on factors including geography, culture or race.
To date, there have been more than 31,000 cases of monkeypox identified globally since May.
Throughout the summer, monkeypox has become a trending term in health care across the nation.
The virus includes rash and fever and is spread through close contact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's from the same family that causes smallpox. It was first detected in 1958 in monkeys and later in humans in 1970. The disease is rarely fatal.
The United States had its first known case back in May.
Tennessee isn't immune, with the state facing 10 cases of the virus as of mid-July. Testing is now available in 48 states, according to White House officials. Vaccines are also on the way.
Symptoms of monkeypox can include:
- Muscle aches and backache
- Swollen lymph nodes
- A rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appear on the face, inside the mouth and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals or anus.
Take the following steps to prevent getting monkeypox:
- Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
- Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.
- Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox.
- Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox
- Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
If you are sick with monkeypox:
- Isolate at home
- If you have an active rash or other symptoms, stay in a separate room or area away from people or pets you live with, when possible.