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EDITORIAL/Monkeying Around: WHO needs to wrry less about the name and more about the outbreak

June 15, 2022 at 10:00 p.m.

A worldwide outbreak of the monkeypox virus has been in the news of late.

But maybe not for much longer.

That's not because the disease is going away, though.

Similar to smallpox but usually milder, monkeypox can cause body aches fever and swollen glands. A skin rash leads to blisters and lesions. Symptoms first appear from five to 21 days after exposure and last for up to a month. In some cases, especially young children and people with HIV, it can be fatal.

It's transmitted by direct contact with with infected person or by a bite, scratch or some other contact with an infected animal.

The virus was first found in 1958 among laboratory monkeys in Denmark, hence the name. The first human case of monkeypox was reported in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and until now most cases were reported in Central and West Africa. There have been scattered outbreaks in the U.S, the United Kingdom and Singapore over the years.

This year's outbreak has resulted in more than 2.000 confirmed cases so far, starting in Nigeria but spreading to more than 30 countries in Africa, Europe, North and South America, Asia and Australia.

The outbreak isn't over. But right now the World Health Organization is concerned about something else -- the name.

On Tuesday, WHO officials said they it's changing the name of the virus from monkeypox to something else not yet determined.

Why? They feel the term "monkeypox" makes the public associate the virus with Africa and as such is "discriminatory and stigmatizing."

Never mind that the virus first turned up in monkeys. Or that monkeys are found in the wild not only in Africa but Central and South America and in most of Asia.

In our view, WHO needs to stop monkeying around with politically correct sensibilities and focus on the task at hand -- containing this outbreak -- no matter what they eventually decide to call it.

Print Headline: EDITORIAL/Monkeying Around: WHO needs to wrry less about the name and more about the outbreak


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