Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine Flu - Semantic Confusion Results in Name Change

When naming a flu virus it is important to choose the right word or words in order to avoid confusing the general public and apparently "swine" is not the right word to represent the particular virus that has been in the news of late. Many people believe this virus can be contracted by eating pork because of its name. This confusion has had a negative impact on the agricultural industry and has led to the unnecessary slaughter of pigs. As a result of this confusion, World Health Organization spokesman, Dick Thompson has announced that they are, "going to stick with the technical scientific name H1N1 influenza A."

5 comments:

Kathleen said...

Oh my, how familiar I am with this little dilemma. I'm managing editor of a Web site (at the University of Minnesota) that was built to help businesses prepare for an inevitable pandemic.

Lifes been CRAZY for the past week, and just when we thought we had things sorted out from an editorial point of view, WHO changes the name of the virus! Not that it will stick with the madding crowd.

I was mortified, though, to learn about the slaughter of perfectly healthy pigs. So if I have to pop a another acronymish name in copy to save some swine, so be it!

Wordacious said...

Kathleen - I hope the craziness slows down soon. I am all for the acronymish name, however, my son just informed me that kids at his school have changed the acronym and are now calling it O-I-N-K.

Kathleen said...

Tell your son he to please go into public health and one day run the WHO!

JD (The Engine Room) said...

Calling it 'swine flu' is better than calling it Mexican flu, I suppose, if the crazies are looking for someone to blame/fear.

Anonymous said...

nice definitions

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