Stop calling it 'swine flu', says US agriculture secretary | world | Hindustan Times
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Stop calling it 'swine flu', says US agriculture secretary

US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stood up for pigs and hog farmers, saying their name has been dragged through the mud by people who insist on calling the A(H1N1) influenza pandemic "swine flu."

world Updated: Sep 12, 2009 11:19 IST

US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stood up for pigs and hog farmers, saying their name has been dragged through the mud by people who insist on calling the A(H1N1) influenza pandemic "swine flu."

"Each time the media uses the phrase 'swine flu,' a hog farmer, their workers and their families suffer," Vilsack said in a statement on Friday.

"It is simply not fair or correct to associate the 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza with hogs, an animal that does not play a role in the ongoing transmission of the pandemic strain," he said.

When the new strain of flu was first reported in North America in April, even the global health authorities referred to the illness as swine flu.

But after the name led to several countries banning imports of pork or live swine from the United States, Canada and Mexico, where the outbreak was worst early on, the World Health Organization reexamined the nomenclature and began calling the virus influenza A(H1N1).

But the old, unflattering name has stuck and is hurting pig farmers.

According to Dave Warner, a spokesman for the US National Pork Producers Council, the US pork industry was "heading in the right direction" when the WHO reported an outbreak of a new strain of flu in Mexico in late April.

The industry had weathered a tough 2007, when high grain and transportation prices meant farmers were losing 40 dollars per pig.