Renaming swine flu? Try 09flu / ‘ohnine flu’
Pork producers don’t like the name ‘Swine Flu’ — it’s scaring people from pork products, even though there’s no flu risk from pork meat.
Israel has already gone to calling it ‘Mexican Flu’, because pigs are unclean in Jewish (and Muslim) doctrine, and there’s no point adding insult to infection when talking about victims.
An anti-immigration group has run with ‘Mexican Flu’, at one point even calling it ‘killer Mexican Flu,’ but I wouldn’t advise them to hold their breath waiting for that to catch on.
What’s needed is a neutral but accurate and descriptive name.
US authorities have started to lean toward ‘H1N1 Flu’, but I can’t see that having legs. It’s too abstract for common use, and in fact there are lots of H1N1 flu viruses — it’s a whole family, and another common strain this last winter flu season was apparently also an H1N1.
I propose instead: 09flu, or ohnine flu. It’s the notable new flu of 2009. This name is vivid, understandable, and the rhyme with ‘swine’ could help its adoption as a drop-in replacement.
HHS, DHS, USDA, CDC — try it. Pork lobby — you can thank me with bacon.
(Who’ll be unhappy with this name? Maybe San Francisco 49er fans, especially after we start calling 09flu sufferers ‘niners’.)