Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Properly Naming the Flu

Pork packers, producers hurt by worries about 'North American flu'
By staff and wire reports
Tuesday, Apr 28, 2009 - 05:39:23 pm CDT

Pork producers and packers are being punished financially for mistaken impressions about what the news media are mistakenly calling “swine flu,” according to international animal health and U.S. health and agriculture authorities.

“It is not correct to call the current disease ‘swine influenza,” the World Organisation for Animal Health said Tuesday. “The virus that is circulating includes genetic components of human, avian and swine origin.”

The organization proposed to refer to this new virus as “North American influenza”, using the same approach to the name as used with the Asian influenza and Spanish influenza outbreaks that have occurred in the past.

U.S. officials said Tuesday they may abandon the term swine flu, for fear it's confusing people into thinking they could catch it from pork — which is flat-out wrong.

"We're discussing, is there a better way to describe this that would not lead to inappropriate actions on people's part?'' said Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "In the public, we've been seeing a fair amount of misconception ... and that's not helpful.'' Read More

This outbreak of the flu has been very harmful to pork producers and processors. Even though not a single pig in the world has gotten sick and you cannot get sick eating properly cooked pork, the term swine flu was originally used as the name for this particular strain. The US government, along with international agencies, is now accurately using the name H1N1 flu. Some of our media outlets have begun using the correct terminology as well. If you hear someone using the incorrect term, please let them know. Anytime there is a potential for the public to panic over a situation, accurate information must be used.

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