WHO to stop using term ‘swine flu’ to protect pigs

By | May 1, 2009

WHO to stop using term 'swine flu' to protect pigs

The World Health Organization announced Thursday it will would stop using the term “swine flu” to avoid confusion over the danger posed by pigs. The policy shift came a day after Egypt began slaughtering thousands of pigs in a misguided effort to prevent swine flu.

WHO spokesman Dick Thompson said the agriculture industry and the U.N. food agency had expressed concerns that the term “swine flu” was misleading consumers and needlessly causing countries to ban pork products and order the slaughter of pigs.

“Rather than calling this swine flu … we’re going to stick with the technical scientific name H1N1 influenza A,” Thompson said.

The swine flu virus originated in pigs, and has genes from human, bird and pig viruses. Scientists don’t know exactly how it jumped to humans. In the current outbreak, WHO says the virus is being spread from human to human, not from contact with infected pigs.

Egypt began slaughtering its roughly 300,000 pigs Wednesday even though experts said swine flu is not linked to pigs and not spread by eating pork. Angry farmers protested the government decree.

In Paris, the World Organization for Animal Health said Thursday “there is no evidence of infection in pigs, nor of humans acquiring infection directly from pigs.”

Killing pigs “will not help to guard against public or animal health risks” presented by the virus and “is inappropriate,” the group said in a statement.

via WHO to stop using term ‘swine flu’ to protect pigs.

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