Monkeypox: World Health Organisation declares global health emergency
World Health Organisation

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has spoken out against people in Brazil who are killing monkeys amid the monkeypox outbreak, saying the animals should not be blamed for the disease.

Around 10 monkeys were poisoned in less than a week in the city of Sao Jose do Rio Preto, in Sao Paulo state, Brazilian news outlet G1 reported, and seven of them died according to The Washington Post.

Similar attacks are said to be happening in other cities too.

At a press conference in Geneva on Tuesday (August 9), WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris explained that the virus was first identified in a group of monkeys in Denmark and that is why it was given the name "monkeypox."

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She added that the monkeypox virus is actually more common in rodents than monkeys despite what the contagion's name suggests.

“People have to know that the transmission we see now is among humans."

“People certainly should not attack the animals,” Harris said.

Currently, Brazil has registered 1,700 cases and one death according to data from WHO.

The WHO official then elaborated by detailing how the virus is being transmitted among humans.

"What people need to know very clearly is the transmission we are seeing is happening between humans to humans. It’s close contact transmission," Harris said.

"The concern should be about where it’s transmitting in the human population and what humans can do to protect themselves from getting it and transmitting it.

"They should certainly not be attacking any animals," she concluded and noted that a name change for the monkeypox virus is being considered.

This echoed a similar message from WHO's Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus who said back in June: "WHO is also working with partners and experts from around the world on changing the name of #monkeypox virus, its clades and the disease it causes. We will make announcements about the new names as soon as possible."

It's not the first time WHO has changed a virus name, in the midst of the Covid pandemic the organisation announced a new naming system for Covid variants, using Greek letters instead of the names of countries the variant was discovered in order to remove the stigma.

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