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Here’s Why We Should Stop Calling It ‘Monkeypox’

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28.07.2022

There have been many things wrong with America’s failed efforts to stop the monkeypox epidemic from spreading.

Vaccine stockpiles weren’t released, red tape has held up production, distribution has been haphazard, treatments have been nearly impossible to come by (again due to government red tape), and doctors have not been given adequate information, leading many patients to be turned away or misdiagnosed.

In short, it’s been an eerily familiar mess. But there’s one part of this fiasco that hasn’t been as widely reported: We’re not even calling the virus by the right name.

It’s not monkeypox. It’s orthopox. And here’s why it matters.

1. It’s wrong.

In 1958, Danish scientists detected a new strain of the orthopoxvirus. They called it “monkeypox” because they discovered it in laboratory primates. But in nature, the virus circulates not among monkeys but among rodents (“dormice, rope squirrels, and pouched rats,” reports The New Yorker). That’s why, for decades, it was confined mostly to people bitten by animals, hunters, and, in 2003, Americans who came into contact with infected prairie dogs, who in turn got the virus from pouched rats imported from Ghana.

Now, if this were a mere error, it wouldn’t be that important. But it’s also an error with some very unfortunate consequences.

2. Monkeys from Africa? No.

First, as monkeypox spreads among wider sections of the U.S. population—which it is........

© The Daily Beast


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