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Global experts give monkeypox variants new names

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Health experts through the World Health Organization (WHO) have come up with new names for the monkeypox strains using Roman numerals, according to a release sent Friday.

A group of global virologists and public health experts met on Monday and decided to now use a Roman numeral for the clade – or strain– and a lower-case alphanumeric character for subclades or substrains. 

The former Congo Basin (Central African) monkeypox clade will now be known as Clade one (I) and the former West African clade as Clade two (II). Additionally, it was agreed that the Clade II consists of two subclades, the WHO said. 

Scientists have called for a change in how we talk about monkeypox and its strains to use less discriminatory terminology to describe infections popping up around the globe.

The scientists believe changing how we communicate about the disease will promote more sharing of knowledge about outbreaks and could help minimize negative impacts.

WHO officials said the name changes better align with current naming practices used today. 

According to the WHO, the monkeypox virus was first discovered in laboratory monkeys — hence the name — in a Copenhagen research facility in 1958. Human monkeypox was first identified 12 years later.

The global health organization currently names new viruses with the aim of not offending any cultural, social, national, regional, professional or ethnic groups, said a WHO release sent Friday. 

WHO is also consulting for a new disease name for monkeypox. 

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