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WHO to stop using term 'swine flu' to protect pigs

Posted Apr 30 2009 1:37pm

GENEVA – The World Health Organization said confirmed swine flu cases rose to 257 worldwide Thursday and announced it will would stop using the term "swine flu" to avoid confusion over the danger posed by pigs.

The global body said the number of confirmed cases in Mexico rose to 97 from 26, with seven deaths. The WHO confirmed tally from the United States now stands at 109, with one death.

Other confirmed cases include 19 in Canada, 13 in Spain, eight in Britain, three each in Germany and New Zealand, two in Israel and one each in Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

WHO spokesman Dick Thompson told reporters in Geneva that at least one of the Spanish cases involved a person who had not traveled to Mexico. Spanish officials said that was a man who apparently got the virus from his girlfriend, who recently returned from Mexico.

Thompson said the flu name change comes after the agriculture industry and the U.N. food agency expressed concerns that the term "swine flu" was misleading consumers and needlessly causing countries to order the slaughter of pigs.

"Rather than calling this swine flu ... we're going to stick with the technical scientific name H1N1 influenza A," he said.

On Wednesday, Egypt began slaughtering its roughly 300,000 pigs as precaution, even though experts said swine flu is not spread by eating pork.

WHO raised the pandemic flu alert to phase 5 on Wednesday, one step away from the highest level indicating a global outbreak. WHO flu chief Keiji Fukuda said Thursday there were no indications in the past day that would prompt the U.N. body to raise the alert further.

To move from pandemic alert level 5 to level 6 means that WHO believes there is evidence of big outbreaks in at least two world regions and a pandemic is under way.

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