The campaign to rename monkeypox gets complicated (rebranding hobbies)

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https://www.statnews.com/2022/08/01/the-...mplicated/

EXCERPTS: Since the earliest days of the current global monkeypox outbreak, scientists and public health authorities have been calling for the disease to be renamed, arguing that it has racist overtones and carries a stigma that will hinder efforts to stop its spread.

In mid-June, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said his agency agreed, and would be working with partners to rename the virus itself, the disease it causes, and the two clades or strains of the virus, each named after the parts of Africa where they are found.

Nearly seven weeks later, none of that has happened yet. It’s very likely some of it may not happen at all.

It turns out renaming viruses and the diseases they cause is not an easy thing to do. It raises concerns about the continuity of the scientific literature. It can be difficult to find an alternative that doesn’t offend. And something that works in one language or culture may not work in another.

What follows is an exploration of why the process of renaming has been so complex in this case and why it may take longer than anyone would have hoped, if the changes are made at all.

The virus — actually the species of virus — is going to get a new name by next June. But that new name will almost certainly still contain the word monkeypox.

[...] The WHO has a protocol for naming new diseases that it adopted in 2015. The guidance contains a sizeable list of don’ts: Don’t name a new disease after a person. Don’t name a new disease after a place. Don’t name a new disease after an animal. (There’s more. You can read it here.)

This guidance relates to naming new diseases. It turns out that renaming known diseases — like monkeypox — is an even more challenging process. “Changing a name overnight doesn’t happen,” Rosamund Lewis, WHO’s technical lead for monkeypox, said in a recent interview.

Lewis noted there have been objections to the name MERS, a Covid cousin, since it was first recognized in 2012 that a camel coronavirus was infecting people on the Arabian Peninsula. MERS (the name of the virus and the disease) is short for Middle East respiratory syndrome and violates the convention, now enshrined in the WHO guidance, that naming a disease after a place is a no-no.

And yet. “MERS is still MERS, even though it says Middle East and people don’t like it,” Lewis said. “And monkeypox kind of falls in the same category.”

Once a disease name is established, it becomes part of the disease Bible, the International Classification of Diseases. Each disease is assigned a code... (MORE - missing details)
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