The Obama Administration would greatly appreciate it if we all stopped calling the influenza virus currently the subject of so many recent screaming headlines the "swine flu."
Obama Administration officials would far prefer that we call the virus by the much less catchy scientific designation "H1N1." Indeed, the administration's new task force formed to coordinate the federal response will be called the "H1N1 Task Force."
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, said at a press conference this afternoon, that "We have asked and there has been a response to change the name of this."
We here NPR's Flu Shots blog aren't sure who was asked and agreed to rebrand the virus but we'll try to find out and get back to you our readers on that.
Vilsack, a former governor of Iowa, the nation's hog capital, said:
"This really isn't swine flu. It's H1N1 virus. That's very, very important. And it is significant. Because there are a lot of hard working families whose livelihood depends on us conveying this message sense of safety. And it's not just simply pork production. It's also grain farmers because markets are very sensitive. They react to positive news and they also react to negative news. The livelihoods of a lot of people are at stake here. We want to reinforce the fact that we're doing everything we possibly can to make sure that our hog industry is sound and safe and to make sure consumers in this country and around the world know that American products are safe."
There was no discussion of the possible rebranding of avian flu but surely the chicken and turkey producers are paying attention to this one.