Monkeypox Variants Gain New Names
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced today a group of global experts has agreed on new names for monkeypox virus variants using Roman numerals.
These classifications are part of ongoing efforts to align the names of the monkeypox disease, virus, and variants—or clades—with current best practices.
The current best practice is that newly-identified viruses, related diseases, and virus variants should be given names to avoid offending any cultural, social, national, regional, professional, or ethnic groups and minimize any negative impact on trade, travel, tourism or animal welfare.
They agreed that the virus clades should be recorded and classified on genome sequence repository sites.
The consensus was reached to now refer to the former Congo Basin (Central African) clade as Clade one (I) and the former West African clade as Clade two (II).
Thus, the new naming convention comprises Clade I, Clade IIa, and Clade IIb, with the latter referring primarily to the group of variants mainly circulating in the 2022 global outbreak.
The naming of future lineages will be proposed by scientists as the outbreak evolves, says the WHO.
Additionally, it was agreed that Clade II consists of two subclades.
The new names for the clades should go into effect immediately while work continues on the disease and virus names.
- Disease: Assigning new names to existing diseases is the responsibility of WHO under the International Classification of Diseases and the WHO Family of International Health Related Classifications.
- Virus: The naming of virus species is the responsibility of the International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses, which has a process underway for the name of the monkeypox virus.
- Variants/clades: The naming of variants for existing pathogens is usually the result of debate amongst scientists to expedite agreement in the context of the current outbreak.
Furthermore, the WHO is holding an open consultation for a new disease name for monkeypox.
Anyone wishing to propose new names can do so here (see ICD-11, Add proposals).
The monkeypox virus (MPXV) was named upon first discovery in 1958, before current best practices in naming diseases and viruses were adopted by the WHO.
Since early May 2022, data sources indicated there had been over 37,000 confirmed and probable MPXV cases.
And in the USA, there are now 10,768 confirmed monkeypox/orthopoxvirus cases.
Additional monkeypox outbreak news is posted at Vax-Before-Travel.
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