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Poxy McPoxface could be the new WHO-accredited name for monkeypox

Jess Hardiman

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Poxy McPoxface could be the new WHO-accredited name for monkeypox

The World Health Organization (WHO) is considering new names for monkeypox - and it seems nothing is out of bounds, with ‘Poxy McPoxface’ among the contenders. 

While names of diseases are sometimes chosen by experts, the WHO has decided to open up the process this time to the public, having welcomed submissions from a number of contributors via its maintenance platform, which provides 'various ways to contribute'.

These include ‘Poxy McPoxface’, which Reuters reports was submitted by Andrew Yi in an allusion to Boaty McBoatface – which, as you may remember, was almost the name of a British polar research vessel, which was also named via a public vote. 

Other options are more technical, such as ‘OPOXID-22’, which came from Harvard Medical School emergency physician Jeremy Faust, while some are a little more political (‘TRUMP-22') or straightforward (‘Mpox’). 

Pressure has been growing to introduce a new name for the disease, partly because it has been deemed misleading as monkeys are not the original animal host. 

The WHO has also said a new name should help avoid ‘offence’ to specific groups of people - or animals. 

WHO spokesperson Fadela Chaib told Reuters today (Tuesday 16 August): "It's very important we find a new name for monkeypox because this is best practice not to create any offence to an ethical group, a region, a country, an animal etc."

World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Credit: Elena Elenaphotos21/Alamy Stock Photo
World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Credit: Elena Elenaphotos21/Alamy Stock Photo

Chaib said the WHO is 'very concerned by this issue' and that it wants to find a name that is 'not stigmatising', but did not give a specific timeline for when the new moniker would be decided upon or introduced.

The health organisation said it would decide among the proposals ‘according to their scientific validity, their acceptability, their pronounceability [and] whether they can be used in different languages’. 

Chaib added: "I am sure we will not come up with a ridiculous name."

One of the more popular suggestions so far has been ‘Mpox’, which was submitted by Samuel Miriello, director of men's health organisation RÉZO in Montreal, Canada. 

The non-profit has already been using the name in its outreach campaigns, with Miriello telling Reuters: "When you remove the monkey imagery, people seem to understand more quickly that there's an emergency that needs to be taken seriously.” 

Another proposal of 'TRUMP-22', appears to be a reference to former US president Donald Trump, although the submitter claims it actually stands for 'Toxic Rash of Unrecognized Mysterious Provenance of 2022'. Obviously.

Featured Image Credit: Vyacheslav Lopatin/GFC Collection/Alamy

Topics: World News, Health

Jess Hardiman
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