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Why is it called monkeypox?


Monkeypox was until now a disease unknown to a large part of the Spanish population, because recorded cases of this virus in Europe have historically been very limited. The WHO has decided to declare the international high alert in the face of the outbreak of infections throughout the world due to monkeypox

Some subject matter experts, such as the virologist Margarita de Val or Fernando Simón, director of the Center for the Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies, have offered information to the public about the symptom of this disease and its transmission capacity in humans. However, there is one question that continues to arouse intrigue:Why is it called that?

Name’s origin

The reason this virus took on the name monkeypox is very simple. According to the US National Public Health Agency (CDCfor its acronym in English), this type of disease, similar to smallpox, was discovered in 1958 in monkey colonies used for research. Hence the name stuck to monkeypox (‘Monkeypox‘ in English).

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The first human case was recorded 12 years later, in 1970, in the body of a 9-year-old boy from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since then, the virus has been located in 11 African countries and has been exported to other continents on several occasions, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

common mix-ups

As has happened with other historical diseases such as the spanish flu -whose name suggests an equivocal origin- the name of monkey pox can also lead to creating some confusion. As explained by the WHOmonkeypox infection has been detected in various species of animalsthough It is mainly transmitted by wild mice..

The list of species that can spread it includes squirrels, Gambian giant rats, four-striped mice, African dwarf dormouse and, finally, primates. The name, however, refers only to apes, which transmit the disease to a lesser extent.

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