Although Anthony Fauci of the Centers for Disease Control stresses that “swine flu” is so named because of historic infection of pigs by H1N1 virus, not everyone is so happy with this influenza virus’ current name. American pig farmers are upset by the name “swine flu,” protesting that sale of pig meat may go on the decline through the power of word association. The Israeli government has declared itself offended by the name “swine flu” for a virus because for people of the Jewish religion, eating of pigs is not considered kosher. I don’t think flu is kosher either, but I’ll have to recheck the Talmud to be sure.
So let me see if I’ve got this straight: we shouldn’t name the current flu virus after an animal that anybody eats, and we also shouldn’t name a flu virus after an animal that anybody doesn’t eat. I guess that would rule out animals entirely.
There are two bigger virus-naming rules at work here, it seems to me. The first is that the name of a virus shouldn’t hurt business (Poor, poor Ayds Diet Gum). The second is that the name of a virus shouldn’t offend the sensibilities of any religio-political group, at least any religio-political group Americans care about.
No animals. No harm to business. No offense to any religious or political group Americans like. Can you come up with a new name for the “swine flu” that follows these restrictions and is really catchy? Add your suggestion by posting a comment to this post. If we pick your idea over the two or three other ideas our visitors and our Auntie Maude contribute, we’ll send you a packaged dollop of our own phlegm in an overnight envelope sent C.O.D..
Hurry! Post your idea now, and if this virus turns out to kill everyone on the planet, then… well, then nobody will be left to hear about it. But if this virus turns out to kill 99% of all human life, then among the remaining 1% your name for the virus could be famous!