What’s in an influenza name? A lot, apparently. And like the swine this one is named for, it doesn’t smell so sweet. A
growing number of voices are clamoring for a better title for the recent virus, since it also (strangely) includes DNA from human and avian strains of influenza. The American pork industry is grunting the loudest because people mistakenly think they can catch swine flu by eating pork chops, and tenderloin sales are beginning to plummet.
Even genius raconteur Paris Hilton has fallen for this misconception. When TMZ crews asked her if she was afraid of swin flu, she stared blankly for a moment and then replied, “No, I don’t eat that.” (April 28 show)
So yeah, if Paris is confused, the name has got to change. Some have suggested Mexican flu, but I think that sounds culturally biased. Here’s an idea. The virus contains DNA from three different species, which makes it an official scientific chimera. So how about the Chimera Flu? I’ve drawn my own nightmare image of it (right, copyright Linda Godfrey).
It does seem to spread very rapidly, so Flash Flu might be apt, and has great alliteration.
Scientists, however, have dug deep into their pocket protectors and pulled out the dull medical label, H1N1. That’s the official nomenclature of this particular virus and they say that’s what we should call it. OK. If you pronounce the 1′s like i’s, it sounds like Hiney. Hiney Flu.
But that makes flu the butt of a joke, and I don’t think that pig will fly. So I’m sticking with Chimera Flu. In world mythology, chimeras were everywhere — griffins, sphinxes, leopopards — and often had bird and human parts. Pig men are not unknown in folklore, either. It appears this version will spread worldwide, so that part fits too.
I’m glad that’s settled. Now to wait for the rest of the world to catch on.