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What’s in a name?

     A lot when it comes to…um swine flu. First, Israel’s Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman, an Ultra-Orthodox Jew, declared in a press conference his country would refer to the newly discovered flu virus as “Mexican Flu,” because pigs are considered unclean and a prohibited food under Jewish dietary laws. The label, “swine flu,” could also be considered to be offensive to Muslims, who also forbid the eating of pork.

     Now it looks the World Health Organization is worried about the pigs. In order to avoid confusion over how the disease is transmitted, WHO officials from now on will refer to the virus by its scientific name, H1N1 Influenza A. Eating pork does not spread the disease, but yesterday, as a precautionary measure, Egypt began slaughtering the country’s approximate 300,000 pigs.

     In an USA Today article, scientists say they are not certain where the virus originated and to refer to it as “Mexican Flu,” would be misleading and stigmatizing.

     To date, there have been at least 120 confirmed cases of the disease and one death attributed t in the U.S.


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