ARCHIV - 26.07.2022, USA, Fort Detrick: Eine kolorierte transmissionselektronenmikroskopische Aufnahme von Partikeln des Affenpockenvirus (rot) in einer infizierten Zelle (blau), die im Labor gezüchtet und in der NIAID Integrated Research Facility aufgenommen wurde. Rund drei Monate nach dem ersten Affenpocken-Nachweis in Deutschland spricht das Robert Koch-Institut (RKI) erstmals von bekannt gewordenen Ansteckungen bei Minderjährigen. (zu dpa «Affenpocken-Fälle in Europa steigen - Impfstoff teils knapp») Foto: Niaid/Niaid/Planet Pix via ZUMA Press Wire/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

The World Health Organization (WHO) is looking for a new name for monkeypox. A less stigmatizing name should be found for the spreading viral disease, a WHO spokeswoman said on Tuesday. Proposals could be submitted online.

Experts warn that the disease’s current name could be discriminatory for monkeys and the continent of Africa with which the animals are often associated. Cases were recently reported from Brazil in which people had attacked monkeys out of fear of the disease.

The virus can pass from animals to humans. However, WHO experts emphasize that the recent global spread is due to close contact between people.

Monkeypox is a less dangerous relative of smallpox, which has been eradicated for about 40 years. They got their name because the virus was originally discovered in monkeys in 1958. The disease also occurs in other animals.

Monkeypox was first detected in humans in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970. Since then, the disease has mainly appeared in some West and Central African countries.

Since May, however, it has also been increasingly recorded outside of Africa. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global health emergency in July due to the significant increase in monkeypox cases.

Typical symptoms of the disease include high fever, swollen lymph nodes and pustules similar to chickenpox. The disease is transmitted through close body and skin contact.

The WHO announced just last week that experts had agreed on new names for the virus variants. So far, the most important variants have been named after the regions in which they occurred – i.e. Congo Basin clade and West African clade.