The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Monday it has renamed monkeypox as mpox, citing concerns the original name of the disease could be construed as discriminatory and racist, The Associated Press reported.

The UN health agency said in a statement that mpox was its new preferred name for monkeypox, saying that both monkeypox and mpox would be used for the next year while the old name is phased out.

WHO said it was concerned by the “racist and stigmatizing language” that arose after monkeypox spread to more than 100 countries. It added that numerous individuals and countries asked the organization “to propose a way forward to change the name.”

The organization began consulting experts about renaming the disease already back in August, shortly after it declared monkeypox’s spread to be a global emergency.

To date, there have been more than 80,000 cases identified in dozens of countries that had not previously reported the smallpox-related disease. Until May, monkeypox, a disease that is thought to originate in animals, was not known to trigger large outbreaks beyond central and west Africa.

The Biden administration declared monkeypox a public health emergency in early August, after cases of the disease were recorded in all but two states.

Before that, New York City declared the monkeypox disease a "public health emergency". New York City Mayor Eric Adams and city Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan said at the time that "New York City is currently the epicenter of the outbreak, and we estimate that approximately 150,000 New Yorkers may currently be at risk for monkeypox exposure.”