Of lipstick on pigs

Should journalists participate in the
rebranding of swine flu? “It is not a ‘swine’ flu, and people
need to stop calling it that,” Dave Warner of the National Pork
Producers Council told CNN. “They’re ruining people’s lives.”
Actually, under the rules of flu nomenclature, viruses are named
after where they are first found, according to this article in Food Manufacturing. That would make it Mexican flu. Right? No. Talk about ruining people’s lives.

When Stephen Harper suggested
Mexican flu
, he wasn’t considering the racially-charged U.S.
political context
. Now he’s made the switch
to H1N1
, placating panicking
pork producers
. But in the science blog Effect
, scientists argue swine flu is still the most
scientifically appropriate name because the virus contains eight
genetic characteristics of swine, while H1N1 means nothing.

Certainly the citizens of La Gloria
to the pigs
. This article
by Mike Davis
in the Guardian argues that a poorly regulated
intensive pork industry is being let off the hook. Meanwhile, Rolling
Stone is laying first claim to the scoop, re-posting this 11-year-old
about pandemics and giant pig barns on its web site.

As an aside, while looking into the flu
naming debate, Big Issue discovered Name
, a blog dedicated entirely to discussion about naming
things, including the new flu. It’s a strange world.

Visit J-Source’s Covering Health Crises portal for resources, opinions and advice about covering this flu.