The politics and economy of “Swine Flu” (or whatever the pork lobby wants me to call H1N1 virus)

First off in Mississippi, Jerry Mitchell has been following all of the swine-flu cases in Miss., none …

Mississippi continues to dodge the swine flu, with no cases reported so far from the Magnolia State.

Some samples are being tested at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, but “we don’t have any cases we think will come up positive,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Mary Currier said today in a media briefing updating the situation in Mississippi.

More than 40 cases of swine flu have been reported nationally — some as close as Texas — but so far the disease has proved far less severe than the disease in Mexico, where it has killed more than 150.

Mexico faces criticism over swine flu response

Two weeks after the first known swine flu death, Mexico still hasn’t given medicine to the families of the dead. It hasn’t determined where the outbreak began or how it spread. And while the government urges anyone who feels sick to go to hospitals, feverish people complain ambulance workers are scared to pick them up.

A portrait is emerging of a slow and confused response by Mexico to the gathering swine flu epidemic. And that could mean the world is flying blind into a global health storm.

Despite an annual budget of more than $5 billion, Mexico’s health secretary said Monday that his agency hasn’t had the resources to visit the families of the dead. That means doctors haven’t begun treatment for the population most exposed to swine flu, and most apt to spread it.

In swine flu, Obama faces big domestic test

Barely 100 days in office, President Barack Obama is facing his first domestic emergency with the outbreak of swine flu and is seeing yet again how fresh challenges can erupt from the unlikeliest of places.

In the space of a month, he has had to deal with a North Korean missile launch and a hostage drama involving Somali pirates half a world away.

And now, from Mexico, comes a new flu that has killed up to 149 people south of the U.S. border but has not had the same deadly force in the United States, sickening at least 65.

U.S. officials want “swine” out of flu name

What’s in a name? U.S. pork producers are finding that the name of the virus spreading from Mexico is affecting their business, prompting U.S. officials to argue for changing the name from swine flu.

At a news briefing, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack took pains to repeatedly refer to the flu as the “H1N1 virus.”

“This is not a food-borne illness, virus. It is not correct to refer to it as swine flu because really that’s not what this is about,” Vilsack said.

Israel has already rejected the name swine flu, and opted to call it “Mexico flu.” Jewish dietary laws forbid eating pork.

Clarion-Ledger, AP and Reuters