Media World: The naming of the flu


Would a virus by any other name be so controversial? Probably not.

When the first cases of a mysterious illness that killed otherwise healthy young people in Mexico emerged, experts quickly determined it was the swine flu, the same type of virus responsible for the deadly pandemic of 1918. As story after story appeared about the virus appeared, the public apparently believed that they could get ill from eating pork products, which experts say are safe if cooked properly.

Pork sales, which already were suffering because of the recession, plunged following the reports, according to the National Pork Producers Council, which campaigned to change the name of the virus from "swine flu" to a more scientific name H1N1. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization both now call the virus H1N1.