Sunday, May 3, 2009

What's in a name?

Last week, the World Health Organization announced it would stop referring to Swine Flu as "Swine Flu." Instead, the WHO is going with the even-catchier "H1N1 influenza A."

Why? To protect the pork industry and pig farmers.

Too late. Consumers already equate the influenza strain with pigs and, in Egypt, 300,000 pigs were killed for absolutely no reason. (I wonder why there are so many pigs in Egypt as Islamic law forbids pork - I think.)

Renaming Swine Flu to its more accurate, technical name will be an exercise in rebranding that the WHO certainly will not want to get into. Perhaps the pork industry will.

But one thing's for sure: simply changing its name will about as effective as (ahem) putting lipstick on a pig.

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