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Swine flu conversation mutates to new level of absurdity

May 1, 2009 |  5:10 pm

Ignore for a moment the question of whether swine flu is a fearsome plague or a mild annoyance, and let's move on to a more pressing matter: What should it be called?  Scientists are carrying on a heated discussion about whether it's correct to name the H1N1 virus after pigs, given that it also has genetic material from bird and human viruses too. Accuracy first.

Meanwhile, thanks to the reported suggestion of a World Health Organization spokeswoman -- who encouraged the public to come up with a better name for the sickness, Twitter users are trying to solve the problem in their own way. Led by actor Rainn Wilson, the online peanut gallery is engaged in a boisterous game of "Name that Flu" (#namethatflu). The object is not to find the most precise name, but the most ridiculous.

Here are a few examples:

- Hamthrax
- Aporkalypse
- Hypefluenza
- Sowmonella
- Global Hamdemic
- Epigdemic
- "
I was thinking Jonothan [sic], or maybe Greg. If it's a girl, then Erin or Amelia."
- Hamageddon
Baconsumption (obs.)

Mass hysteria has become ... hysterical.

Corrected: Thanks to readers for pointing out that virus's genetic material is made of RNA rather than DNA, and that National Public Radio originated the name game.

-- David Sarno