30 April 2009

Idiocy Epidemic Hits Egypt

The Israeli public health bureaucracy is inadvertently getting its way as the World Health Organization has announced that it is going to stop using the "swine flu" name for the current virus. The organization reportedly made this decision in order to counter confusion over the public health risk presented by pigs. It's just as likely that the WHO has acted in order to minimize a public health risk to pigs. The announcement follows an order of the Egyptian government to slaughter the country's entire porcine population, even though there was no reason to believe that they carried the flu -- unless pigs have also been travelling to Mexico and back recently. I've also heard that many people are worried about contracting the swine flu by eating pork, as if it were "mad pig" disease.

The WHO has not taken up the Israeli suggestion of "Mexican flu" as a new name for the present epidemic. Instead, we'll all have to remember the dry, unevocative sobriquet of "H1N1 influenza A," which I suppose has the virtue of sounding less scary. Whether the public will embrace this tag is doubtful, but bureaucracies have etiquette to consider.

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