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Too pig to fail: Officials seek to remove “swine” from flu name to save pork industry

By Doug Powers  •  April 29, 2009 08:42 AM

The Obama administration—in keeping true with their penchant for changing the names of things — is trying to stop using the word “swine” in swine flu:

U.S. pork producers are finding that the name of the virus spreading from Mexico is affecting their business, prompting U.S. officials to argue for changing the name from swine flu.

At a news briefing, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack took pains to repeatedly refer to the flu as the “H1N1 virus.”

“This is not a food-borne illness, virus. It is not correct to refer to it as swine flu because really that’s not what this is about,” Vilsack said.

I’m all for helping keep businesses from being victimized by the uninformed (many voters can empathize because the same thing often happens to us on Election Day), so maybe another name is in order. But what should it be?

The Obama administration has already stopped using the terms “terrorism” (now “man-caused disasters”) and “war on terror” (now “overseas contingency operation”), so there should be no problem changing the name of the “swine flu.”

How about “Virus caused disasters”? “Rosie O’Donnell fever”? The “Arnold Ziffel sniffles”? “Arlen Specter”?

As it turns out, Napolitano and Vilsack aren’t alone in their disenchantment with the “swine flu” label:

Israel has already rejected the name swine flu, and opted to call it “Mexico flu.” Jewish dietary laws forbid eating pork.

It’s not settled yet, because somebody in Israel is about to get a call from La Raza.

The Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health also objected to the name, saying the virus contains avian and human components and no pig so far has been found ill with the disease.

Translation: The name “swine flu” reeks of pigophobia

And there is growing sentiment in the farm sector to call it the North American virus — although disease expert Anthony Fauci told a Senate hearing the “swine flu” designation reflected scientific naming protocol.

“Let’s see… ‘bird flu’—been there. ‘Chickenpox’ is old. ‘Elephantitus’—did it. ‘Mad cow’—done that. ‘Monkeypox’—used it already. Yep, ‘swine’ is next on the list. Run with it…”

For U.S. pork producers the swine flu name has hurt, forcing government officials into the position of stressing that American pork is safe to eat and that other countries should not ban imports.

Isn’t the government that’s now pushing pork on us the same one that’s always telling us we’re way too fat? Confusion: the new white meat.

Pork, soybean and corn prices have fallen in the last two days, “and if this continues, obviously you have significant potential, which is why it’s important to get this right,” Vilsack said.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? “Pork bailout!” Soon we’ll be told the industry is “too pig to fail.”

At the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there was also talk of stripping the “swine” from swine flu, which CDC acting director Richard Besser said was leading to the misapprehension that people can catch the disease from pork.

True. If you could catch the disease from pork, much of Congress would be in Bethesda Naval Hospital heaving their worthless guts out right now.

“That’s not helpful to pork producers. That’s not helpful to people who eat pork. It’s not helpful to people who are wondering, how can they get this infection,” Besser told a briefing.

I love pork. I also love sausage, pork chops and barbeque. The fact that it never occurred to me to stop eating these things because of the “swine flu” means that I either bothered to learn about the facts about this virus, or am willing to die for bacon. Truth be told, I think it’s a little of both.

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