WHO recommends new name for monkeypox

News brief

The World Health Organization (WHO) today announced that it is recommending mpox as the new name for monkeypox disease, following expert consultations that addressed racist and stigmatizing language.

Both names will be used simultaneously for 1 year as the monkeypox term is phased out, the WHO said in its announcement. The group followed the naming process under the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) and the WHO Family of International Health Related Classifications. It said the ICD updating process can take several years, but was accelerated while following the usual steps. The expert groups weighed several considerations, including rationale, scientific appropriateness, extent of current usage, pronounceability, usability in different languages, absence of geographical or zoological references, and the ease of retrieval of historical scientific information.

The term "monkeypox" to describe a human infection with the orthopoxvirus was first used in 1970, given that the disease was discovered in captive monkeys in 1958. The naming occurred well before the WHO published best practices for disease naming—established to reduce unnecessary stigma— in 2015. The WHO added that before the global mpox outbreak, the International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses had already been considering renaming all orthopoxvirus species, including monkeypox.

In August, WHO experts agreed, as part of naming best practices, on new names for mpox virus variants, with the former Congo Basin (Central African) clade renamed clade 1 and the former West African clade renamed clade 2.

Ebola cases slow in Uganda's outbreak, 1 new case reported

News brief

The pace of new Ebola cases has slowed in Uganda's Sudan Ebola outbreak, with the country today reporting its first case in 11 days.

On Twitter, the health ministry said the new case involves a 28-week baby boy who was stillborn to a 23-year-old mother from Kassanda district who is an Ebola survivor. The mother's delivery was attended by a midwife who wore appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). The new case raises the country's lab-confirmed total to 142, including 56 deaths.

In other outbreak developments, the country's President Yoweri Museveni on Nov 26 again extended a quarantine by 3 more weeks for Mubende and Kassanda districts, which have been the main outbreak epicenters, according to Reuters.

Countries agree to targets for human, animal antibiotic use

News brief

An international conference on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) concluded last week with an agreement on global targets for antibiotic use in humans and animals.

In an official statement, participants in the Third Global High-Level Ministerial Conference on Antimicrobial Resistance committed to reducing the total amount of antibiotics used in the agri-food system by at least 30% to 50% by 2030, ending the use of medically important antibiotics for nonmedical veterinary purposes (ie, growth promotion) and ensuring that first-line, or Access antibiotics, represent 60% of overall human antibiotic consumption by 2030.

Participants also agreed to update and implement National Action Plans for AMR and strengthen national, regional, and global AMR and antibiotic-use surveillance.

The aim of the conference, which was attended by ministers of health, agriculture, animal health, and the environment, along with policy experts and representatives from the private sector and civil society, was to pave the way for "bold and specific" political commitments at the 2024 United Nations (UN) General Assembly High-Level Meeting on AMR.

The agreement was welcomed by members of the Quadripartite, which includes the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH, formerly OIE), and the UN Environment Programme. The Quadripartite is coordinating the global response to AMR.

"The use of antimicrobials in animals has shown an overall decrease over the last years. By strengthening biosecurity and husbandry practices, such as animal vaccination, we can further build on this great achievement and sustainably reach the agreed goals," WOAH Director-General Monique Eloit, DVM, said in a WHO press release. "Reducing the need for antimicrobials is the best way to prevent antimicrobial resistance."

"Antimicrobial resistance is one of the most urgent and complex challenges of our time, and yet perhaps because it is not as dramatic as a pandemic, a war or a humanitarian emergency, it doesn’t attract the same attention," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD. "It is my firm hope that this meeting will pave the way towards bold—and concrete—political commitments at the 2024 UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AMR."

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