Monkeypox could soon get a new name.
The World Health Organization announced Friday that it plans to rename the condition to eliminate any derogatory or racist connotations, a decision in alignment with current best practices for naming diseases.
"The naming of virus species is the responsibility of the International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV), which has a process underway for the name of the monkeypox virus," WHO said in a statement.
The U.N. health agency made the decision after a meeting with scientists. WHO will hold an open forum to consider new names not offensive to specific groups.
The agency has already renamed two families (clades) of the disease, removing geographic area names including Congo Basin and West Africa and replacing them with monikers such as Clade one and two or with Roman numerals I and II.
The intent is to “avoid causing offense to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional, or ethnic groups, and minimize any negative impact on trade, travel, tourism or animal welfare," WHO said.
According to the Associated Press, some other diseases still do carry names from geographic areas where they began or were first identified, including Japanese encephalitis, Marburg virus, Spanish influenza and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on monkeypox.
SOURCE: WHO statement, Aug. 12, 2022; Associated Press