why is the disease called that?

In recent weeks, the appearance of monkeypox in unusual areas such as Europe or America is worrying. Why does this disease, which usually circulates in Africa, bear this name?

After more than two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, the emergence of monkey pox is worrying. Usually endemic in Africa, this disease, also known as “monkey pox”, has recently appeared in Europe and America. In recent days, several scientists have denounced the discriminatory nature of the name “monkey pox”, the disease being “not really a disease linked to monkeys”, virologist Oyewale Tomori told AFP, who judges this name ” misleading”.

Indeed, the virus is generally transmitted through contact with rodents. But if it is called so, it is because the Danish researchers who discovered the disease in 1958, discovered it in their laboratory in monkeys. Although it is a disease different from smallpox, it has been given the name smallpox because its symptoms are similar to those of human smallpox, due to the pustules it causes. The word smallpox comes from the Latin “variolawhich means “small pustule”.

WHO wants to rename the disease

The same is true in English, where “monkey” means “monkey” and “pox”, the plural of “pock”, means “pustule”. Pox characterizes pimple-causing diseases like chickenpox, which English speakers call “chicken pox.” It is for this reason that these diseases belong to the poxvirus family.

In recent days, the WHO has announced that it wants to rename the disease, due to concerns about the stigmatizing nature of such a name. “Monkeys are generally associated with southern countries, especially Africa,” says researcher Moses John Bockarie on the Australian site The Conversation. In addition, the African continent has very often been targeted as the source of diseases that have spread around the world such as AIDS or Ebola.

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