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U.S. officials trying to contain the swine flu are now trying to contain the use of the phrase "swine flu" itself.
At a briefing with reporters Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack pleaded with the media and others to start identifying the illness as "H1N1 flu."
Specifically, federal authorities are trying to convey the message that – despite the name “swine flu” – pork products are safe to consume.
The economic impact of “H1N1 flu” touches close to home for Vilsack, who was governor of Iowa – "The Corn State" – until 2007.
Some countries have offered their own names for the virus. Israeli officials on Monday suggested renaming it Mexican flu, saying the reference to pigs is offensive to Muslim and Jewish sensitivities over pork. While the biggest outbreak and most serious illness so far is in Mexico, scientists don't yet have proof that's where the new virus originated.
Naming the flu, in fact, has a problematic history. The infamous 1918 pandemic was first called the Spanish flu, although scientists today all agree it didn't start there. It may have started in Kansas.
Meanwhile, the message from U.S. officials that it’s “not correct” to refer to “swine flu” may not be getting transmitted either.
As of Tuesday evening, the Centers for Disease Control still had a web page devoted to “Swine Influenza.” In an index of diseases and illnesses, no listing for “H1N1” could be found.