Lipstick on the pig flu

April 29, 2009

Fat pig.  Eat like a pig.  Sweating like a pig.   Let’s face it, pigs had a PR problem even before the swine flu outbreak began in Mexico.  The flu itself is quite scary, but sounds even more ominous because it is called swine flu.   Bird flu brought up images of people sprouting wings, flying away.  Swine flu on the other hand sounds devilish, for obvious biblical reasons (“A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, ‘Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.’ He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs.” Mark 5: 11-13).

The FT is reporting this morning that a number of different communities of scientists and politicians are upset about the name, for a number of reasons.  People who work in the pork industry are upset that the flu is giving pork a bad name – several countries have already banned the import of US and Mexican pork, even though there is no scientific basis for doing so as the virus, like bird flu, does not spread through eating cooked meat.  Indeed, the virus was only 50% porcine: the other half is avian and human, which seems to make swine flu a misnomer.  Additionally, the Israeli Minister of Health was quoted as saying that the name was offensive to Jews and Muslims, who are forbidden by their religions to eat pigs.

Thus some are proposing renaming the flu “Mexican flu”  or “North American flu.”  But that seems to me to be putting lipstick on the pig, rather than addressing the real risk of a flu pandemic spreading quickly thanks to globalisation.


7 Responses to “Lipstick on the pig flu”

  1. Plutarch said

    Great post – lipstick on the pig !


  2. […] post that discusses similar issues and calls proposed changes to the name -swine flu- as like putting lipstick on the pig – call a spade a spade – it looks like it is going to remain ‘Swine – […]

  3. Plutarch said

    have made a link to this post from my site

  4. […] you might think, this potential marginal uptick in income is just putting lipstick on the pig of any otherwise gloomy economic picture. But as the third transmission mechanism above suggests, a […]

  5. Juli Brest said

    When swine flu strucked, everyone was in disaray because it was a very deadly virus back then.*

    Look into our own web site too

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