Why monkey pox must be called differently and why the WHO ignores its own rules

Have you ever heard of MPXV? It stands for monkey pox. It belongs to the genus Orthopoxvirus, in the subfamily of smallpox viruses Chordopoxvirinae, and is currently on the rise. In fact, they shouldn’t even exist. At least by name and if the World Health Organization (WHO), with its own recommendations of May 2015, meant it. Among other things, they state that animal species are taboo as godparents of the disease. Monkey pox is given as a negative example.

The term evokes false associations. Especially since it is not monkeys that transmit the virus mainly, but only occasionally act as false hosts. Rodents transmit smallpox. But rodent smallpox also doesn’t sound any better, reminiscent of rats, epidemics, dangers, and such lofty allusions should be avoided at all costs, the WHO recommended seven years ago. Therefore, it should also not be used: unknown, deadly, deadly or epidemic.

African swine flu is completely non-standard by the standards of global health watchdogs, although it has been repeatedly talked about in connection with epidemics in Brandenburg, for example. In addition to the animal species, the term also contains a geographical definition, which according to the WHO is generally inappropriate.

The recommendation came too late to prevent another bad habit: there were times when syphilis was known in Germany as a French disease, in Poland as a German disease, and in Russia as a Polish disease. Reproachful pointing to neighbors has a long tradition. Sometimes this should happen within the country, although it is very doubtful that this is the name, for example, of the Hamburg Burden Fever from Häme compared to the city of Hessen.

What will monkey pox be called in the future?

Fortunately, the name Wuhan virus could not be accepted and is now called Corona or more properly Sars-Cov-2, a coronavirus of severe acute respiratory syndrome type 2. Spanish and Russian influenza, on the other hand, cannot get rid of their nickname, even though they have been known for a long time. One of the peculiarities of the WHO recommendations is that the name Valley fever is allowed, but the synonym San Joaquin Valley Fever is not.

If an international organization had its own way, Creutzfeldt-Jakob and Alzheimer would have had different names long ago, because they are personal names. On the other hand, adjectives that include certain groups of people are allowed. For example, senile to senile escape from bed or juvenile to juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Labels for subgroups of pathogens are also harmless, in the case of the politically correct Corona, for example, using the Greek letters alpha, delta, omicron. They replace incorrect paraphrases such as Indian, South African or Brazilian variants.

However, there is said to be resistance to Pi in China because it is a common name there. With BA1 to 5, on the other hand, no one feels personally attacked. And what will happen to monkey pox? The WHO will soon decide what it will call the virus in the future. MPXV is inappropriate. MP stands for Monkeypox.

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