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…

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 Measure, 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 point 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 article about pandemics and giant pig barns on its web site.

As an aside, while looking into the flu naming debate, Big Issue discovered Name Wire, 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.

Patricia W. Elliott is a magazine journalist and assistant professor at the School of Journalism, University of Regina. You can visit her at patriciaelliott.ca.