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What We’re Reading: Monkeypox Variants Renamed; Meal Times, Mental Health Linked; Concussion Research Disparities


The World Health Organization renamed the Congo Basin and West African monkeypox variants; irregular daily eating patterns can throw off circadian rhythm and negatively impact mood; concussion studies primarily have male participants.

WHO Renames Monkeypox Variants

To avoid references to geography, specific individuals, and animal species in the names of viruses, the World Health Organization (WHO) has renamed the Congo Basin and West African monkeypox variants to Clade I and Clade II, respectively, effective immediately. According to the WHO news release, the best practice since 2015 when naming viruses and related variants or diseases is to avoid names that could offend any cultural, social, national, regional, professional, or ethnic groups, or negatively impact trade, travel, tourism, or animal welfare. Additionally, with the monkeypox virus being named when it was first discovered in 1958, well before the current best practices took effect, the WHO is working to rename the virus.

Unpredictable Eating Schedule Can Harm Mental Health

According to a Wall Street Journal interview with researchers from Queen’s University School of Medicine in Canada, not having an eating schedule or pattern can have a negative impact on mental health. Elena Koning, doctoral student at Queen’s University Centre for Neuroscience Studies, explained the body’s circadian rhythm can be desynchronized when eating irregularly or at times when our body thinks we should be asleep and that the gut microbiome also changes throughout the day and night. This desynchronization can have a negative effect on mood; however, the exact cause is still being explored.

Female Athletes Underrepresented in Concussion Research

Research on sports-related concussions almost exclusively includes male athletes, The Washington Post reported. This finding is based on a review published in British Journal of Sports Medicine, where researchers analyzed 171 sports-related concussion studies and found that 80.1% of participants were male. Further, 40.3% of the studies did not include any female athletes and only a quarter had fairly even male and female athlete participation. Because of this research gap, it is still unclear whether men and women respond to concussions differently. Researchers suggest this gap could be due to several reasons, including women’s historic exclusion from sports, professional sports organizations with no female counterpart, and the general lack of female representation in scientific research.

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