Swine flu, Thailand, and nomenclature

There has so far been no outbreak of swine flu here in Thailand. Local media yesterday reported one “suspected” infection in a Thai national who had traveled to Mexico earlier this month. But it now appears that the woman has ordinary flu.

This Nation story about the case contains an interesting snippet:

The swine influenza, under a department directive, is now called the “Mexican human flu” in Thailand in order to make people more aware about its origin and the risk of a human-to-human transfer. The word swine has been removed so people are not scared of consuming pork.

“Mexican human flu”?

The New York Times has more on the issue of swine flu and nomenclature:

Government officials in Thailand, one of the world’s largest meat exporters, have started referring to the disease as “Mexican flu.” An Israeli deputy health minister — an ultra-Orthodox Jew — said his country would do the same, to keep Jews from having to say the word “swine.” However, his call seemed to have been largely ignored.

And:

The Mexican ambassador to Beijing, Jorge Guajardo, has been outspoken this week in suggesting that the disease did not originate in Mexico. He said in a telephone interview on Tuesday that the disease was brought to his country by an infected person from somewhere in “Eurasia,” the land mass of Europe and Asia.

Ambassador Guajardo said in a telephone interview that his government had been told by American and Canadian experts that the genetic sequence of the virus pointed to Eurasian origin.

“This did not happen in Mexico,” he said, adding, “It was a human who brought this to Mexico.”

But flu specialists in Asia said that the new virus probably did not make the jump from animals to people in Asia.

(Thanks to BL for the NYT link.)

Published by Newley

Hi. I'm Newley Purnell. I cover technology and business for The Wall Street Journal, based in New Delhi. I use this site to share my stories and often blog about the books I read, tech trends, sports, travel, and our dog Ginger. Join the growing group of readers who get my weekly email newsletter.

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