WHO changes swine flu name

Thu, Apr 30, 2009, 01:00

The World Health Organisation (WHO), bowing to pressure from meat industry producers and concerned governments, said today it would refer to a deadly new virus strain as influenza A (H1N1) not swine flu.

"From today, WHO will refer to the new influenza virus as 'influenza A (H1N1)'," it said in a brief announcement posted on its website.

The new strain has infected 257 people, of whom 8 have died. It derives from a swine influenza virus but the new strain has been found only in people. No pigs have been confirmed to be sick with it.

The WHO has consistently said the disease cannot be caught from eating pork if it is prepared properly.

"There is also no risk of infection from this virus from consumption of well-cooked pork and pork products," it said.

The name of the flu led several countries to slap bans on imports of pork from Mexico and the United States, where the outbreak first appeared, and authorities in Egypt have ordered a cull of pigs.

US and European food industries and governments had been calling for a change in name to remove the link in people's minds between the disease and pigs.

European Union health commissioner Androulla Vassiliou told reporters in Brussels yesterday the EC has “decided to call it novel flu from now on."