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April 30th, 2009
08:40 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Swine Flu or Not? The Name Debate

Swine flu is usually diagnosed only in pigs or people in regular contact with them.

Swine flu is usually diagnosed only in pigs or people in regular contact with them.

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Tonight on AC360°, we'll have the latest developments on H1N1.  What's H1N1, you ask? That's the clinical name for the latest flu outbreak.

The World Health Organization announced today it would stop using the term "swine flu" to avoid confusion over the perceived danger posed by pigs.  WHO will now refer to the illness as "H1N1 influenza A" after two of its genetic markers.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also opting for "H1N1."

Richard Besser, the CDC's Acting Director said today, "What we call this matters much less than what we do.  We continue to be very aggressive in our approach and we're going to continue to do that until the situation tells us that we no longer need to do so."

The pork industry has been hit hard by reports of "swine flu",  even though it's not spread by eating pork. That is important. Let me repeat it.  "Swine flu" is not spread by eating pork.

"This flu is being called something that it isn't, and it's hurting our entire industry," said Dave Warner, communications director for the National Pork Producers Council.

But others disagree.

Dr. Raul Rabadan, a professor of computational biology at Columbia University told the Associated Press, six of the eight genetic segments of this virus strain are purely swine flu and the two other segments are bird and human.

"Scientifically this is a swine virus," said virologist Dr. Richard Webby to the AP.  He's a researcher at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.  He's also director of the WHO Collaborating Center for Studies on the Ecology of Influenza Viruses in Lower Animals and Birds.

Back at the WHO, while the health agency says it's dropping the term "swine flu", it seems the message hasn't been passed along to the folks who handle their web site. "Swine Flu" is still part of the internet address for the WHO.

What do you think of the name debate? Should it be called swine flu or not? Sound off below.

And, join us for the latest on the outbreak at 10pm ET.
See you then!


Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. Nancy Lee

    Call it what you will ,I call it a diversion,its takes more than one death in p.b. county fl. to get a stop sign installed.so how could one death in Texas cause all this havoc ?now what are they trying to divert our attention away from? perhaps the cost of two wars in a recession ?perhaps its the economy we are trying to solve by borrowing instead of creating jobs to work our way out of this recession? what do you think they are trying to take our minds off ?

    May 1, 2009 at 6:24 am |
  2. jb1879

    It is THE SWINE FLU!!!! Calling it H1N1 is what's confusing. I guess Obama is also still trying to say it did not originate in Mexico!!!!

    May 1, 2009 at 5:20 am |
  3. un-named

    It really doesn't matter what it's called.
    I am sure through politics, it will not be keeping the name "Swine" in it though.
    To much money to lose for certain people, businesses, and organizations, to let that name continue on.

    May 1, 2009 at 4:09 am |
  4. un-named

    Well, I am in the medical field, working as a phlembotomist (drawing blood donations) and a health historian (getting health information from you to see if you can donate blood), in a world wide non- profit organization (Not naming names).

    Anyways, we have not been told by our organization, to use any more precautions with this swine flu (or H1N1) outbreak than we do on an everyday basis. There has not been any masks distributed, no reminders sent out for hand washing or hand sanitizers, none of that. Our company hasn't even sent out any messages addressing this flu, to my knowledge. We questioning donors about things like Malaria, Babeseosis, Creutzfeld – Jakob disease and so on...but not any questions have been added, yet, reguarding THIS flu.

    So, in my opinion, if this FLU is that contagious either #1 Our world wide organization doesn't know how to handle it yet, or #2 in the USA, it really simply isn't being considered any more dangerous than the Normal yearly flu strains we've had.
    I'm GUESSING It's #1...
    We DO ask, if people are feeling healthy and well today. If they aren't, we will question them as to why, what symptoms they have, and they cannot donate, either temporarily or indefinately.

    May 1, 2009 at 3:47 am |
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