Have the monkeys complained?
The head of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene called on the World Health Organization (WHO) to rename monkeypox to prevent the “potentially devastating and stigmatizing effects” that the virus’s name could bring about.
Maybe “stigmatizing effects” would be a net plus for a disease brought on by avoidable behavior? Do we really want neutral cheerful names for diseases that we want people to avoid getting?
Commissioner Ashwin Vasan wrote to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a letter on Tuesday expressing his concerns over how his city was again “at the epicenter of a contagious disease that is affecting the fabric of our communities.”
“Further, we have a growing concern for the potentially devastating and stigmatizing effects that the messaging around the ‘monkeypox’ virus can have on these already vulnerable communities,” Vasan wrote, urging the Tedros to follow through with what his organization said it would do last month.
During a press briefing on June 15, Tedros announced that the WHO was working with global partners and experts to change the name of monkeypox, saying a new name would be given “as soon as possible.”
Vasan said he had a “serious concern” over exclusively using the term “monkeypox” to refer to the virus due to the “painful and racist history” associated with the name. He also noted that the name itself was misleading, as the virus is not believed to originate in monkeys.
What’s the “painful and racist history” of monkeypox?
All of this is coming from a city that cheerfully stigmatized Orthodox Jews and blamed them for COVID and utilized overtly discriminatory means of persecuting those communities, not to mention in general blaming religious people for church weddings and funerals.
Anyway, the virus, as the CDC could explain to Vasan, who got his job because of his work on “health equity”, because it was first identified in monkeys.
Monkeypox was discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in colonies of monkeys kept for research. Despite being named “monkeypox,” the source of the disease remains unknown. However, African rodents and non-human primates (like monkeys) might harbor the virus and infect people.
There’s a perfectly good reason for calling it monkeypox. There’s no real reason to change the name except politics. And we’ve already seen how effective the diversity, equity and identity politics crowd is at fighting viruses.