Wednesday Reads — Everything’s Not So Swine

Would Swine Flu, by any other name, be less damaging to the nation’s agricultural economy?

US Secretary of Agriculture TomVilsack thinks so, according to Radio Iowa. Pork prices are falling. Russia and China have slapped import restrictions on some US pork and some skittish nibblers are losing their taste for the other white meat.

In Cedar Rapids, they’ve even cancelled live pig kissing. Madness:

Kissing a pig has been a great fundraiser for years, but the American Diabetes Association decided now is not the best timing.

The group decided, in the wake of the swine flu outbreak, to tweak Tuesday night’s event during the Corridor Classic at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids.

“It’s still ‘kiss a pig’ but they’re not kissing a live pig,'” said Jenn Petsche, area manager for the Eastern Iowa chapter of the American Diabetes Association.

Instead, executives from AEGON USA and other area businesses and hospitals – 12 in all – kissed someone dressed as a pig during the baseball game to raise money for the group.

The only problem with all of this, as The Des Moines Register points out, is that no “swine” flu cases have been found in pigs in the US or in Mexico, the epicenter of the outbreak.

Say what?

“To their knowledge thus far, they have no pigs with this virus,” said John Clifford, deputy administrator for veterinary services at the Agriculture Department.

He told a Senate appropriations subcommittee that the flu’s name was causing “undue alarm” among countries that import U.S. pork.

I hate undue alarm. So if we’re going to save our bacon, folks, we’ve got to come up with a new name. Pronto.

Some have suggested the Mexican Flu, although that’s very unpopular in, uh, Mexico. Another suggestion is the North American Flu, or NAF, which sounds more like a trade agreement.

Pork producers have suggested calling it the Vegan Flu. Yeah, I made that last one up.

Republicans might like it if we called this surprising, potentially lethal strain the Specter Flu. Liberals might vote for the Glenn Beck Crazy Flu. Cable news producers might pick the Fear for Your Lives Flu, judging by the tone of coverage so far.

It’s not just cable. Last night,  KGAN here in CR ran with some sort of CDC pandemic simulation maps that show red dots of flu-inflicted death swiftly overtaking half the country. Sweet dreams, gentle viewers.

So the message here, folks, is, please, put on your thinking caps, keep grilling up those delicious Iowa chops, and try to avoid becoming a red dot. Good luck.


1 Comment

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One response to “Wednesday Reads — Everything’s Not So Swine

  1. The other one floated recently was “hybrid” flu. I hear Prius owners object. But all joking aside, the most accurate name is “H1N1.” That’s what scientists call it and that’s how researchers refer to it.

    We TV types don’t care for a name like that, it’s boring and doesn’t play nice with alliteration. But I’m pushing for it. I choose accurate over boring any day, and perspective over fear, while I’m at it.

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