Israel’s ‘Kosher’ Swine Flu

By Eleanor Goldberg

Published April 29, 2009, issue of May 08, 2009.

Just in case you were worried that a terrible virus linked to pigs would whet people’s appetite for pork, Israel’s deputy health minister has renamed the swine flu. He’s calling it the Mexico flu.

Yakov Litzman announced the name change at a news conference April 27, after an Israeli was diagnosed with the disease at a hospital in Netanya.

Litzman implemented the kosher-friendly name to avoid offending Jews and Muslims who observe religious dietary laws, even though the respiratory disease is not contracted through digestion, but spreads from person to person — probably through coughing and sneezing.

Despite Litzman’s intent not to offend, he may have misplaced the blame.

According to an article published in The New York Times: “The debate is likely to continue as scientists and health authorities try to trace the disease. While all signs now point to Mexico as the epicenter, the genetic material in the virus there was a swine influenza virus of Eurasian origin. And influenza viruses tend to emerge from Asia.”

For now, Israelis can rest easy. Even if they are infected with the disease, they’ll be in accordance with the laws of kashrut.



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