It’s been quite a week for H1N1 influenza A. What’s that? You never heard of H1N1 influenza A? Perhaps you’re more familiar with its other name — swine flu.
The name of the disease has been just as controversial as the recent outbreak that has now been traced back to Mexico.
Earlier this week, you may remember an Israeli health official saying the disease should be renamed “Mexican flu” because of sensitivities to kashrut laws. Pigs = treyfe.
Well, Mexico didn’t quite like that and filed a complaint, which led that health official to basically say, “Just kidding!”
That bit of news is really buried in The Jerusalem Post articles, but it is there if you look for it.
But wait, Jews aren’t the only ones uncomfortable with the pig references. Egypt has ordered all pigs in the country to be destroyed. Halal, like kashrut, forbids the consumption of pork products. Yet both Israel and Egypt have thriving pig farm industries. Well, not for long.
“It has been decided to slaughter all pigs in the country immediately,” Minister of Health Hatem al-Gabali said on Wednesday afternoon.
Despite my kosher leanings, even I think destroying the entire pig population seems a bit harsh — especially since the swine flu is not spread by pigs. Minor detail. But Egypt has never let minor details stand in its way before.
So, the World Health Organization earlier today decided it should do something to prevent further misunderstandings with our split-hoofed friend that does not chew its own cud. The organization announced that it is officially changing the name from swine flu to its scientific — if much less common — name: H1N1 influenza A. The details.
In the words of A.C. Slater from “Saved By The Bell,” “Oink, oink, baby.”