The word “monkeypox” has only just registered in most people’s minds as the disease spreads across the globe, but already the World Health Organisation wants it changed. It is stigmatising, the WHO says, and the name of a disease should avoid “causing offence to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional or ethnic groups, and minimise any negative impact on trade, travel, tourism or animal welfare”.
It has a point: the virus was found in monkeys in 1958 and in humans in 1970, but the way it spreads to people may have little to do with monkeys — it also infects rodents, for example. And yet there are grim recent reports of monkeys being attacked and poisoned in Brazil.
The WHO has now set up an