Enough with the "s" word, already

Monday, September 14, 2009

With the start of the school year, the talk of the resurgence of the H1N1 virus has been making the news a great deal lately. Since its appearance last spring, the H1N1 virus has been the topic of much education, speculation and fear.

When the H1N1 appeared, it was routinely referred to as the Swine flu. The mere mention of the word "swine" caused the death of countless thousands of pigs, perfectly healthy pigs whose only crime was being born swine. Misinformation about the disease and its spread last spring led to confusion and ultimately, the avoidance of consuming pork.

After the initial panic about the H1N1 had passed, some common sense seemed to return to the world. News outlets reported that the H1N1 virus could not be contracted from eating pork, or from contact with hogs. Hog markets, which had been struggling before the H1N1 pandemic panic, took a large hit, one that they are continuing to struggle to come back from.

The summer was relatively calm on the H1N1 front as researchers worked on a vaccine in advance of the coming flu season. People contracted the flu and other related illnesses during the summer, and H1N1 became a back burner story.

Ask any parent with school age children and they will tell you that in spite of the best efforts of everyone from parents to teachers to custodians, the schools are a virtual petri dish for all sorts of illnesses. Once anyone in the system becomes sick, it's pretty much a sure fire bet that many will come down with an illness. That's one of the reasons that when vaccines are developed that children are among the first to be inoculated.

An Australian company has reported success with an H1N1 vaccine. Initally, it had been thought that patients would need to have two shots to be immunized against H1N1, but it appears that the vaccine may get the job done with one shot.

This is great news, but national news outlets continue to report on the "H1N1 or Swine" flu. We respectfully ask our brethren to knock it off with the "s" word, already. The continued use of the "s" word does more harm than good.