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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. Amanda Aubry

    I think the number 1's should be replaced in the H1N1 name with the spanish word for one being "uno." The result:

    Huno Nuno

    Easy and rolls of the tongue! Easy to remember and fitting as it originated from Mexico. Problem solved.

    May 1, 2009 at 12:13 am |
  2. Rochelle

    H1N1 is medical for those who don't understand where its origin. Because of this flu, can civilization today be slowly wipe out? 1918 influenza took a toll on the world, and now the world is worried. The "Third World Countries" like Mexico don't have the proper resources in medicine, how quickly can the right medical resource be delivered?

    May 1, 2009 at 12:02 am |
  3. Erin

    A rose by any other name...would still be called the Swine Flu...

    May 1, 2009 at 12:02 am |
  4. Marianne (Northampton, MA)

    Let's call it H1N1 now, because it doesn't matter any longer that it originated in swine or pigs. But if history holds, it'll be known as the "2009 influenza pandemic," if it comes to that–just like for the 1918, influenza and the rest in the 20th century. Also, I think that Joe Biden was right about not taking airplanes right now, but for the wrong reason–it's not just airplanes we should be avoiding, but any and all public spaces. Not an easy thing to accomplish, obviously. But we could save many lives. Read about the nonpharmaceutical interventions successfully used by some cities in the 1918 influenze pandemic to reduce cumulative deaths: JAMA article (available free online at Journal of American Medical Association site): "Nonpharmaceutical Interventions Implemented by US Cities During the 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic." No schools, no public gatherings, and mandatory isolation/quarantine for up to 4 weeks–hard to fathom, but it might prove necessary.

    April 30, 2009 at 11:51 pm |
  5. Linda Sante'

    Virus names should be scary. It's better to keep them named after critters like Asian Bird Flu. I think it's better to keep the name Swine Flu, after pigs it's a more effective scare, right?

    April 30, 2009 at 11:44 pm |
  6. Rhonda IL

    Ok the swine flu started from pigs so why change the name?? Also why is it tonight on our local news they say there are 45-50 cases here in IL from chicago through northern IL. The CDC has nothing for IL as of yet?? I feel this needs to be played down some before there is mass panic. Trust me I am worried for my kids and family. Lets live in a bubble.

    Rhonda

    April 30, 2009 at 11:39 pm |
  7. Kathi

    It's the FLU! Flu is Flu.

    April 30, 2009 at 11:32 pm |
  8. Lisa

    I'm still nervouse but not so much. Just got to wash our hands couple times a day & don't touch your mouth, eye's & nose. I suggest when anyone get's done with work, just go home if you don't have anywhere important to go. If you have to go some where, avoid anyone who is sick & when you get home throw your clothes into the wash & shower up.

    April 30, 2009 at 11:27 pm |
  9. Ann Fleetwood

    Should name it the "Mexican Flu"!

    April 30, 2009 at 11:26 pm |
  10. Troy McCain

    In 1907 the world population was 1.7 billion. Most everyone had the knowledge and raised at least part of the food they ate. It took 47 years to add the next billion to the world population. Now we are at 6.7 billion and it only took 12 years to add that last billion. Now 2% of the population is raising the food to feed the world. Government mandates, enviornmentalists, animal rights activists,and now panic caused by those who no longer have the knowledge to feed themselves is threatening to cut off that hand that feeds them. By continuing this assult on the swine industry you are pushing for another pandemic that I thought I would never see in my lifetime, World hunger. American farmers produce the best food in the world. If you like the food you eat then have faith in those who produce it for you. Farmers still know how to feed themselves. What will the other 98% of the world population do.

    April 30, 2009 at 11:19 pm |
  11. Deb

    H1N1 sounds so clinical. The swine flu sounds personal.

    April 30, 2009 at 10:56 pm |
  12. Iman Hammad

    H1N1 flu should be the name. First of all because we should have knowledge of the scientific name so we know if more than one strain combined and what not. But the reason why they want to change the name is so they dont have to slaughter all those pigs. But the public has already took to calling it the swine flu. And the translation of swine in all languages. So it will only have to be H1N1 with the health officials. The media and public still call it swine flu.

    April 30, 2009 at 10:41 pm |
  13. mel

    I think we should call it swine flu. Thats what it's been known as and we are not totally certain that it isn't in the meat. Look at all the times the scientists have been proven wrong and the medical industry. I know I didn't eat peanut butter when the peanuts in Va. were tainted and I won't eat pork for a while.
    Thanks Mel

    April 30, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  14. Joseph

    i doubt you'll worry about what it is called if you get it...

    April 30, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  15. Jean

    Hello Anderson I think the Vice President is right. The Airlines know it too but do not want to loose money so they will say it is Ok to fly. Stop beating up on the VP. Be honest.

    April 30, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  16. rachel

    It should be called the havine flu. Human avian and swine!

    April 30, 2009 at 10:20 pm |
  17. Jim

    I live in Mexico City. I have a big concern that Monday's earthquake in Mexico City will fuel the spread of the flu. I could see the risk unfolding before my eyes. Minutes after the earthquake, I walked down the stairs to the street level from the 10th floor of my office building. I was with 100s of other people with masks on and nearly everyone of them holding the hand rail on the way down.

    The hand rail - a breeding ground for germ transmission.

    Now, multiply that by the 1000s of buildings in Mexico City and millions of people that went through the same earthquake flu evacuation.

    The flu will spike to new levels in 1 week.

    April 30, 2009 at 10:19 pm |
  18. Kevin

    It is just the flu. The press is making it a huge deal. The flu has always been around and always will live with it and get over it.

    April 30, 2009 at 10:11 pm |
  19. Roland

    call it pig disease

    April 30, 2009 at 10:11 pm |
  20. E & J

    The news keeps providing information about travel to Mexico, but what about if you are already here.

    We are in Cabo and there are no known cases as of yet in Cabo. Is it better to stay here or should we go home from our trip early? Any guidance?

    Also, have you heard of any cases in Cabo or in the south Baja peninsula?

    April 30, 2009 at 10:10 pm |
  21. Mandy

    I believe VP Biden is right. I just cancelled my trip to Europe. You don't know who is sitting next to you on the plane or in the airport. It's a matter of common sense

    April 30, 2009 at 10:09 pm |
  22. Natalie

    It is swine flu. It has to do with a pig. People have been told that it is ok to eat bacon. If they still do not feel safe eating it then that is their choice. If you want bacon, eat bacon; if not, don't. It's as simple as that.

    Renaming it will not change anything. If it was called H1N1 then people would be mad because and say that "the government was trying to hide something. The politicians Ag friends would be hurt and they couldn't let that happen." Eaither way people would be mad. If you tried to change it now, who would REALLY call it H1N1?! Just medical examiners. Everyone already calls it Swine Flu and that is going to stick.

    Whatever you call it, I think it's a big joke. People should stop hanging out with pigs. I think it is being blown way out of proportion. We were raised to a level 5 when it was diagnosed to 91 people out of 10 states. 91 out of 10? Since when does that have such significance?! 91/10=5?? I think not.

    April 30, 2009 at 10:02 pm |
  23. Isabel

    Hi, Maureen Miller!

    I felt his absence in the Evening Buzz. Glad you're back! I'm happy with this! 🙂

    It is interesting to change the name of the "swine flu" because at least in Brazil, producers of pork were taking huge losses. They are placing advertisements calling the H1N1 of the "Mexican flu".

    It will be difficult to talk about H1N1, huh! Lol ...

    Really? "Swine Flu" is still part of the internet address for the WHO.
    But we can relieve ... they are very labor!

    Thank you!

    April 30, 2009 at 10:01 pm |
  24. Brian - DC

    It vote for calling it "HINI" ... looks the same as H1N1 ... or call it "HINI-A" or "AHINI" or "HINIA." If the virus is "H1N1 Influenza A" the "H1N1" nomenclature looks like "HINI" (where the 1's are read like I's) so it is easy to remember, say and doesn't refer to pigs or other animals that are not responsible for spreading the virus in this pandemic.

    April 30, 2009 at 9:57 pm |
  25. Emily

    Don't you feel that the buzz created by the media is a little excessive. Every year people die of flu – I think we'll find that this one is no different

    April 30, 2009 at 9:51 pm |
  26. David Carlson aka silverboon

    Yes it started has Swine Flu. Then it was changed to H1N1. With the combinations of the virus, H1N1 is appropiately named. This is a strain that had mutated. It could mutate again or leave or even come back. Whatever it is, the name is a name but also a name is informing all of us to take precautions.

    April 30, 2009 at 9:50 pm |
  27. Tracey Smith

    Everyone already knows it as swine flu...why confuse everyone just to be politically correct?

    I know pork producers are whining...but really...I don't see that many folks have shunned eating pork as it's been made clear from the beginning that you CAN NOT get this from just eating pork and let's face it the majority of us don't have actual tactile contact with pigs on a daily basis.

    So, while I love Piglet and Miss Piggy as much as the next person...I'm sticking with Swine Flu.

    April 30, 2009 at 9:50 pm |
  28. Jim Carroll internet free press.com

    I would just call it what it is–swine flu. If the pig gets hurt so be it.

    April 30, 2009 at 9:45 pm |
  29. enea

    swine it is, my dear. once something is labeled in the media, it sticks. as athletes who have been charged with drug use, this too will stick and the CDC, the W H O and the whole medical field can try and retract the use of the word, but it's in history now and it will always be called that.

    April 30, 2009 at 9:41 pm |
  30. mrs. O

    i recall a "possible swine flu epidemic" during the mid to late 70's. we all lined up and got the vaccine. many of us got really sick with flu symptoms. and now i'm reading that this particular flu crisis never
    really happened. what's the story?

    April 30, 2009 at 9:39 pm |
  31. TERESA

    a pig is a pig all of its life!=swine=sickness=swine flu!

    April 30, 2009 at 9:36 pm |
  32. Trias

    It's swine flu. To be more accurate, it should be Farm Factory flu...

    April 30, 2009 at 9:33 pm |
  33. Myra Boyd

    I am so fed up with people constantly jumping on VP Biden's every word! Good grief, he said almost the exact same thing as Besser did but put it in an average American wording! Get off the man's back for Heaven's sake. I'm personally glad he speaks "without" a forked tongue! (like most all other politicians!)

    April 30, 2009 at 9:31 pm |
  34. Brooks

    I like that Beth, 'SWUVIAN' flu !!!

    April 30, 2009 at 9:30 pm |
  35. linell ela, winter park, fl

    The DNA doesn't lie...it is swine flu...you can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig. Where have I heard that before?

    April 30, 2009 at 9:29 pm |
  36. Mary

    I believe because it is a "new" virus, it warrants a new name, specifically so that it is not associated with a typical type A viral flu. Although I am not so sure about Swuvian...

    April 30, 2009 at 9:29 pm |
  37. Karen Andrews

    The name of the flu doesn't really matter, what matters is you get medicine and monitor your health.

    April 30, 2009 at 9:24 pm |
  38. Jim M

    Too politically correct these days.

    How about Suidae Flu? For the subfamily of artiodactyls (pigs).

    Next we will have to rename Avian Flu and Chickenpox.

    April 30, 2009 at 9:22 pm |
  39. Maria Mar.

    Although swine flu did originate from pigs not all pigs have the virus. In fact i believe that we will see other virus coming out of farm animals because this could have easily been avoided if farmers would stop trying to mass produce and leave animals huddled/sick/filthy. Its a shame that they are considering killing all those pigs in Egypt.
    -Maria
    Arizona

    April 30, 2009 at 9:21 pm |
  40. Lori from IL

    I don't think it should be called the swine flu and have felt this way for several days - "swine flu" suggests you catch this flu from swine and while that's probably the origin - the virus has not mutated and is being passed human to human. Thus I feel H1N1 is the more appropriate name, since this strain as it has not mutated is not "caught" from hogs/swine. (Think back to the "bird flu" and how once that virus mutated the name was changed to H5N1.) Continuiing to call it swine flu is confusing to many who think it's passed through contact with animals/meat products and not human to human contamination.

    The killing of hogs unnecessarily is sickening - think of the loss to the economy and the starving people that could be fed from disease free animals.

    April 30, 2009 at 9:19 pm |
  41. Christiaan Keaton

    Everyone knows it as Swine Flu already, why bother to confuse people by changing the name – political correctness? I mean, who are we going to offend, some pigs???

    April 30, 2009 at 9:15 pm |
  42. Benji

    Who cares the two names. What matters is when scientists can cure this disease.

    April 30, 2009 at 9:11 pm |
  43. FernWise

    It should be called ZOO FLU. Mostly because it's a more accurate phrase – it's a combination of swine, avian, and human. But also because it rolls off the tongue, makes good headlines, and fits on Twitter well

    April 30, 2009 at 9:10 pm |
  44. Heidi

    I can understand why they have changed the name. It's genetics have changed since it first presented itself. I personally don't think it matters what they call it. We just need to focus on getting it under control and less on the politics of what its called.

    April 30, 2009 at 9:09 pm |
  45. Ryan Walsh

    We should be weened off the phrase "Swine Flu". But right now some people still don't know what the H1N1 virus is. Use such entries as "the H1N1 virus a.k.a. Swine flu" for 4 or 5 days until absolutely everyone knows what we're talking about. There is no reason to upset pork industries if it is not necessary.

    April 30, 2009 at 9:09 pm |
  46. Jeremy Torres

    Just stick with H1N1 its the actual name Health Officials use and will get stress off people's chests and not think pigs are to blame for all this.

    April 30, 2009 at 9:02 pm |
  47. LadyJFabulous

    Swine flue or H1N1, it's a crock! Clearly if they have a lab name for it, it originated in the lab. The real question is why did they choose this time to release H1N1?? What's going on that they are trying take the people's attention away from? Why did they release it in Mexico? And does this have anything to do with the creation of the North American Union?

    April 30, 2009 at 9:02 pm |
  48. Annie Kate

    Health officials may refer to the disease as H1N1 Type A now but to most of us not in the health field it will always be the wine flu. Its east to remember and its what it was called from the beginning and those early names seem to stick.

    April 30, 2009 at 8:55 pm |
  49. beth

    With all due respect to the cute little piggies, swine flu it is. Only politicos and lab coats will stick with H1N1 virus.

    If we wanted a more accurate name, however, this virus is a combination of human, avian and swine – swuvian, anyone?

    April 30, 2009 at 8:53 pm |
  50. Dee F

    It should not be called SWINE FLU, it is obviously confusing many people.

    April 30, 2009 at 8:52 pm |
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