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A Flu by Any Other Name

Israel’s ultra-Orthodox top health official earlier this week said that, within the Jewish state, “swine flu” would be called “Mexican flu.” Perhaps he thought that all the talk of the potentially deadly flu associated with pigs would cause a run on pork chops, bacon and deli-style ham — even though the outbreaks have been having the opposite effect.

But then Mexico’s ambassador to Israel — concerned that his country’s name was being dragged through the pig sty — lodged a formal complaint with Israel’s Foreign Ministry, and officials in the Jewish state agreed to refer to the virus by its treif name.

Now its American pork producers who want to rebrand the virus so to reverse the recent, precipitous drop in pork prices, according to Reuters. Their moniker of choice: North American flu.

Take that, North America!

The Reuters story also reports:

At the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there was also talk of stripping the “swine” from swine flu, which CDC acting director Richard Besser said was leading to the misapprehension that people can catch the disease from pork.

“That’s not helpful to pork producers. That’s not helpful to people who eat pork. It’s not helpful to people who are wondering, how can they get this infection,” Besser told a briefing.

In other Jewish flu-related news, four of the six Israelis who were thought to have been infected with swine flu — or whatever you want to call it — have tested negative for the disease.

And the ultra-Orthodox Agudath Israel issued a press release, relating that its division of education affairs had provided its 600-plus educational institutions with “a question-and-answer sheet prepared by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and a sample letter to parents, prepared by the New York State Education Department.”

These documents, the release made clear, are “easily modifiable for use by yeshivos across the country.”

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