W.H.O. Gives Virus a Name That’s More Scientific and Less Loaded
By DENISE GRADY
Published: April 30, 2009
On Wednesday, the new disease affecting thousands of people in Mexico and more than 100 in the United States and other countries was called swine influenza. By Thursday, the “S word” had been banned: A sentence in a box at the very top of the home page of the World Health Organization said, “From today, W.H.O. will refer to the new influenza virus as influenza A(H1N1).”
At the organization’s news conference in Geneva on Thursday, its deputy director general, Dr. Keiji Fukuda, dutifully referred to the virus as “H1N1,” slipping only once. Just two days earlier, Dr. Fukuda had declared that the new virus was a swine influenza virus and that the organization had no plans to call it anything other than what it was.
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have also started to shun the word “swine,” and a hapless reporter who used it during a radio interview was roundly scolded by Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Read More
It’s refreshing to see that public health officials finally realized that they were doing more harm to the public because of the street name used for this virus than the virus itself. I would contend that the word ‘pandemic’ has caused less panic around the world than the term ’swine flu’. Egypt needlessly seized and slaughtered hundreds of thousands of healthy hogs from farmers in an attempt to ward of this flu that hasn’t made a single hog sick. They wouldn’t have done this if officials had correctly name this virus in the first place.