September 11th, 2009
01:15 PM ET

Stop calling it swine flu!

By Miriam Falco
CNN Medical News Managing Editor

The U.S. Department of Agriculture symbolically slapped the news media on the hand Thursday for perpetuating the term "swine" flu in reports about the new H1N1 strain of influenza that's spreading across the world.

In a written statement and during two telebriefings, the USDA reminded reporters that since last Spring they have “consistently asked that the media stop calling this ‘novel’ pandemic virus ‘swine flu.’”

So what's the big deal? Health officials say the H1N1 virus more closely resembles the pandemic Spanish flu of 1918 than a swine flu. The USDA says struggling pork farmers are being hurt in a big way when the virus is called “swine flu.” USDA officials stress that “ you cannot get infected with 2009 pandemic virus from eating pork or pork products."

"Each time the media uses the phrase ‘swine flu’ a hog farmer, their workers and their families suffer,” says USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in a statement posted on the USDA Web site. “It is simply not fair or correct to associate the 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza with hogs, an animal that does not play a role in the ongoing transmission of the pandemic strain."

USDA officials point out that China is not importing U.S. pork because of the erroneous belief that eating pork is tied to the spread of this new type of flu.

I am a member of the news media and I have used both H1N1 and “swine flu” in my stories because some people know the virus only as “swine flu,” which is what it was originally labeled.

So how did the confusion start?

Back in the spring, when we first heard about "swine" flu, it was given that name because initial tests showed it resembled some known viruses that have circulated in pigs. However, the CDC explains on its Web site, "…further study has shown that this new virus is very different from what normally circulates in North American pigs." The agency explains that this new H1N1 virus has genetic material from viruses found in European and Asian pigs, as well as genes from birds and humans. Plus, USDA officials point out that this is a human virus because it was first detected in humans. They say there are no reports of H1N1 circulating in any swine herds here in the United States. They acknowledge that Canada, Australia and Argentina have found H1N1 in a few pigs. And Deputy Agriculture Secretary Dr. Kathleen Merrigan says she wouldn’t be surprised if the H1N1 virus does eventually surface in U.S. pig herds. But she stresses that pigs infected with the virus would not be sent to market.

Health officials keep reminding us that the best way to avoid getting sick with this new H1N1 flu virus is to take the following precautions:
– Wash your hands frequently.
– Cough into a tissue or your sleeve, not into your hand.
– Get a regular seasonal flu shot now, and the H1N1 flu vaccine when it becomes available, allowing the highest risk groups to get their shots first.

And please don't call it swine flu.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.

Next entry »
soundoff (516 Responses)
  1. Content Marketing Event


    May 10, 2021 at 21:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Local Marketing Consultants


    May 11, 2021 at 00:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Social Media Marketing Company Near Me


    May 11, 2021 at 05:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Seo Marketing Companies Near Me

    This is a topic that is close to my heart... Take care! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    May 11, 2021 at 06:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Internet Marketing Consultants Near Me

    I blog often and I genuinely thank you for your content. This article has truly peaked my interest. I am going to book mark your website and keep checking for new details about once a week. I subscribed to your RSS feed too.


    May 11, 2021 at 09:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Internet Marketing Quote


    May 11, 2021 at 10:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Digital Marketing Agency

    Hi, I do think this is an excellent web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I'm going to revisit once again since i have book-marked it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to help others.


    May 11, 2021 at 13:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Google Marketing Services

    I was able to find good advice from your articles.


    May 11, 2021 at 15:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Internet Marketing Mentors

    Having read this I believed it was really informative. I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this short article together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!


    May 11, 2021 at 16:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. horse trailer service near me


    May 11, 2021 at 20:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. RV Blinds Riverside

    I'm extremely pleased to find this website. I want to to thank you for your time for this wonderful read!! I definitely savored every bit of it and i also have you saved as a favorite to look at new stuff in your web site.


    May 12, 2021 at 00:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. rv repair places near me


    May 12, 2021 at 00:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. oc rv dealers


    May 12, 2021 at 01:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Sprinter Van Service


    May 12, 2021 at 04:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. RV Mattresses Riverside

    Excellent blog you have here.. It’s hard to find excellent writing like yours these days. I really appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!


    May 12, 2021 at 05:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. monrovia collision center

    This blog was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something which helped me. Many thanks!


    May 12, 2021 at 05:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. rv repair orange county

    Howdy! I simply want to give you a big thumbs up for your excellent info you have right here on this post. I'll be coming back to your web site for more soon.


    May 12, 2021 at 06:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. RV Windshield Near Me

    I wanted to thank you for this fantastic read!! I absolutely enjoyed every little bit of it. I've got you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post…


    May 12, 2021 at 07:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. camera shop orange county

    Very good post. I will be going through some of these issues as well..


    May 12, 2021 at 08:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. camper repair service near me

    I truly love your website.. Pleasant colors & theme. Did you make this website yourself? Please reply back as I’m hoping to create my own personal site and would like to find out where you got this from or what the theme is called. Appreciate it!


    May 12, 2021 at 12:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. redtube co

    Good site you've got here.. It’s hard to find excellent writing like yours these days. I seriously appreciate people like you! Take care!!


    May 12, 2021 at 13:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. rv shower wall repair


    May 12, 2021 at 15:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. RV Washing Los Angeles

    I like it when folks get together and share opinions. Great website, stick with it!


    May 12, 2021 at 17:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Mercedes Sprinter Repair Near Me W Ratings


    May 12, 2021 at 20:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Sprinter Resistor Repair

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this write-up plus the rest of the website is very good.


    May 12, 2021 at 22:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. trailer repair near me now


    May 13, 2021 at 00:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. furniture restoration orange county

    Greetings, There's no doubt that your blog could possibly be having internet browser compatibility issues. When I look at your website in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in IE, it's got some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to give you a quick heads up! Apart from that, fantastic blog!


    May 13, 2021 at 01:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Mercedes Sprinter 3.0 Intake Runner Repair

    I was excited to discover this page. I need to to thank you for your time for this particularly fantastic read!! I definitely loved every part of it and I have you saved to fav to see new things on your blog.


    May 13, 2021 at 02:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. tires in orange county ca

    I need to to thank you for this excellent read!! I definitely loved every little bit of it. I have you bookmarked to look at new stuff you post…


    May 13, 2021 at 03:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. RV Washing California

    Your style is very unique in comparison to other folks I have read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I'll just book mark this web site.


    May 13, 2021 at 04:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. bucket truck repair


    May 13, 2021 at 07:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Diesel Sprinter Repair Near Me

    Great blog you have here.. It’s difficult to find excellent writing like yours nowadays. I seriously appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!


    May 13, 2021 at 07:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. tv mounting service orange county


    May 13, 2021 at 09:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. parts shop near me


    May 13, 2021 at 13:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. RV Body Shop Orange County

    Good day! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after going through many of the articles I realized it’s new to me. Nonetheless, I’m definitely happy I stumbled upon it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back regularly!


    May 13, 2021 at 13:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. orange county ca rv parks


    May 13, 2021 at 16:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Sprinter Seat Belt Buckle Repair

    This is a topic which is close to my heart... Take care! Exactly where are your contact details though?


    May 13, 2021 at 20:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. dashboard restoration near me

    You ought to take part in a contest for one of the best blogs on the net. I am going to highly recommend this web site!


    May 13, 2021 at 20:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. rv upgrade store


    May 14, 2021 at 00:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. boom truck repair near me


    May 14, 2021 at 01:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. RV Couches Riverside

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning this post and the rest of the website is also very good.


    May 14, 2021 at 06:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. rv entertainment system


    May 14, 2021 at 07:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. RV Upgrades California

    Howdy! I simply wish to offer you a big thumbs up for your great information you've got right here on this post. I'll be coming back to your web site for more soon.


    May 14, 2021 at 10:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. RV Tires Riverside


    May 14, 2021 at 11:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Sprinter Van Rooftop A/C Leak Repair

    I'd like to thank you for the efforts you've put in penning this site. I'm hoping to view the same high-grade blog posts by you later on as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my own, personal blog now 😉


    May 14, 2021 at 13:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. RV Dent Repair Los Angeles

    After checking out a number of the articles on your website, I honestly like your way of blogging. I saved it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back in the near future. Please visit my web site as well and let me know how you feel.


    May 14, 2021 at 14:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. realtors coeur d alene id


    May 14, 2021 at 17:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Used Maserati Ghibli S Q4 Near Me

    Your style is unique in comparison to other folks I've read stuff from. Thank you for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark this site.


    May 14, 2021 at 20:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Eye Exam Near Me


    May 14, 2021 at 22:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. camper restoration near me


    May 15, 2021 at 01:19 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Next entry »
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.