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'Mexican Flu' my ass.

‘Mexican Flu’ my ass.

Too busy for analysis right now, but submitting this for your consideration. I think most of us have noticed how right-wing pundits are using racist fearmongering tactics to blame the swine flu on illegals from Mexico — even to the point of referring to it as the “Mexican flu.” The fact that the carriers were actually a bunch of prep-school kids from Queens who went to Cancun for Spring Break seems to have been lost on them. Anyway, the Guardian notes another possible source:

Early today the US owner of an industrial pig production facility around 12 miles from La Gloria said it had found no clinical signs or symptoms of swine flu in its herd or Mexican employees. The world’s biggest pig meat producer, Virginia-based Smithfield, said it is co-operating with the Mexican authorities’ attempts to locate the possible source of the outbreak and will submit samples from its herds at its Granjas Carroll subsidiary to the University of Mexico for tests.

Smithfield, which is led by pork baron Joseph W Luter III, has previously been fined for environmental damage in the US. In October 2000 the supreme court upheld a $12.6m (£8.6m) fine levied by the US environmental protection agency which found that the company had violated its pollution permits in the Pagan River in Virginia which runs towards Chesapeake Bay. The company faced accusations that faecal and other bodily waste from slaughtered pigs had been dumped directly into the river since the 1970s .

The outbreak of respiratory illness in the area of the Granjas Carroll plant was first detected at the beginning of this month by Veratect, a company based in Washington state which monitors the spread of disease and pandemics around the world for corporate clients.

If this is confirmed, what will the Repundits call it then? “Colonialism Cough”? “Greedy Gringo Fever”?

32 comments to ‘Mexican Flu’ my ass.

  • Lori S.

    They will switch tactics and suddenly declare that left-wingers are the actual fearmongers — after all, we only have one confirmed death, and that wasn’t even a real American. And then they will push sales of Tamiflu, “just in case.”

    (I have my doubts on the pig farm theory. I mean, industrial pig farming is bad, bad, bad, don’t get me wrong. And it’s not out of the realm of possibility, either, but we’ll see.)

  • Satyrblade

    Gee – the right wing and their courted “Joe Six-Pack” demographic racist? WhereEVER did you get THAT idea?

    (Yes, I’m being deeply sarcastic here.)

  • That’s just dumb.

    On a side note, a border-line conspiracy theorist that I know feels that this flu was a biological attack, possibly from terrorists hoping to spread disease in the U.S. Or even our own government trying to make us THINK the terrorists are attacking, so they can continue funding the war in Iraq.

  • Dave

    The World Health Organization has determined that this flu does not come from pigs. They are now calling the outbreak the Mexican Flu. This naming is consistant with the naming of a flu outbreak by the name of the location that it originated. Some may consider this offensive however if there is an outcry to rename this then you must also rename the Spanish Flu, the Hong Kong Flu, the Asian Flu, the Russian Flu etc.

  • nojojojo

    Dave,

    Funny, I don’t see anything about “the Mexican Flu” on the WHO website.

  • Alex

    That’s… terrible. In Australia it’s being called Swine flu because that’s what is believed to be the main vector for it. Last time I checked the WHO website they were still calling it swine influenza A (and I’m sure it’s related to avian influenza, I’d bet money on it).

    They’re fools if they think selling tamiflu is going to do anything. It has an effective period of only ten days AND it’s not proven against novel strains of influenza. Some strains have even shown resistance against it. The only thing that would really help would be a vaccine, which is currently not available.

    It is true that past pandemics have been named for place of origin but that doesn’t change the fact that everyone loves to point the finger. No country deserves that brand, especially since the flu has already claimed some lives. Just because it’s a convention doesn’t mean we should keep it. It’s disrespectful and distasteful.

  • no…it will somehow still be someone else’s fault. the u.s. mentality is that of a great big spoiled rotten male child who believes himself to be entitled & never at fault.

  • Janet

    You are misinformed with respect to the name. The WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION is the one who has rename the swine flu to Mexican flu because the latest research indicates that the flu DOES NOT have origins with swine.

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that the most recent research on swine flu has shown that the virus is not caused by pigs. The disease is now being referred to as Mexican flu or “2009 H1N1 flu”.

    Cheers.

  • nojojojo

    Jeff, Janet,

    Sorry, that’s not true. As I pointed out to Dave, there’s no mention of “Mexican Flu” on the WHO website, or in their press briefings. In fact they still seem to be calling it swine influenza (along with H1N1), as of this posting. I’m not sure where you’re getting your information (Janet), but it’s probably a better idea to get this information from the source rather than secondhand, since stuff gets garbled in translation.

  • hippokrene

    “30 April 2009 — From today, WHO will refer to the new influenza virus as influenza A(H1N1).”

    The only people calling it ‘Mexican Flu’ are US politicians.

  • Jose

    The flu originated in Mexico according to the CDC who I believe more than the leftist Guardian. While American citizens coming back from Mexico have brought the virus back, these people can be tested, tracked, treated and quarantined if necessary.

    However illegals are the hole in the system, if an illegal crosses the border, he won’t pass through customs (where they could be tested, if they exhibited symptoms) and detained. They will bring the virus into their communities and spread it. They won’t see medical attention as they are illegal. They can’t be tracked because they don’t exist in American Gov’t databases so they can’t be quarantined. They will spread the virus to new communities putting us all at risk.

    Before you call me a racist you should know I have Mexican heritage and I came back from Mexico 4 days ago. I was born in the USA and my parents who were born in Mexico are legal immigrants to America. 4 days ago I came from Mexico City to New York on a flight. I was sick, so I was detained by U.S. customs for hours. They tested me for the Mexican flu and the test came back negative. I have strep throat but was cleared to travel as I had been taking antibiotics for days before my flight. I am not angry for being detained. Customs were only doing their job, so everyone would be protected. I don’t want to catch the Mexican flu and I fear the illegal who no doubt are spreading it as we speak.

    The only thing I ask is please differentiate between hard working, honest legal immigrants from Mexico and those scum who come here illegally and give all us Mexicans a bad name

  • nojojojo

    Jose,

    No one’s disputing that the flu originated in Mexico. Even the American-owned pork processing plant that’s the subject of the Guardian article (and a corporate health watchdog company, and an MSNBC report, and some other sources that you’ll probably dismiss as equally “leftist”) is located in Mexico, in the community where the outbreak started. That’s really not what’s in question here.

    What’s in question is why Mexican citizens are being brought up at all in relation to this issue. The flu wasn’t brought into the US by Mexicans; the earliest confirmed cases were American schoolkids, farmers, and businessmen. Since you’re so concerned about being put at risk, doesn’t it make more sense to blame the groups that actually have been shown to have put us at risk, rather than the group which might do so, hypothetically?

    What you’re doing is kind of like blaming aliens — I mean, the kind from outer space — for the US recession. It’s certainly possible that life exists on other planets, and that it might’ve devised some insidious plan to destroy our world by inducing thousands of businesspeople to invest in mortgage-backed securities. But since there’s no way to prove this, and we have proven that quite a few Earthpeople did some shady shit, who does it make more sense to point the finger at?

    In fact, given the pattern of this particular flu, what we’re seeing outside of Mexico is that it’s being chiefly spread by legal citizens of “First World” nations traveling via traditional transportation systems and legally across borders, for the purposes of making money or getting a cheap vacation. So wouldn’t it make more sense for you to fear colonialism, rather than illegal immigration?

  • Jeff

    http://www.forbes.com/2009/04/30/swine-fools-flu-opinions-contributors-protectionism.html

    This editorial in Forbes.com is the reason the misnomer of “Swine flu” should have never been coined and a more aptly related popular name of “Mexican Flu” or even “North American Flu” would make more sense. Pork farmers, grain farmers and pork processors shouldn’t have to bear the economic brunt of other countries looking for a flimsy excuse for protectionism over semantics. The flu is being transmitted human to human, NOT from eating pork or being around pigs. And a quick Google is showing the popular name of “Mexican” flu is starting to catch on world-wide – was well it should if you don’t want to try to remember “H1N1″ flu – as our government officials are now calling it.

    Should Mexicans be made pariahs as a result? Absolutely not. Should travelers regardless of nationality be scrutinized more carefully when arriving from Mexico? Of course. I don’t want to see it become worse here – or anywhere else – being overly sensitive to ethnicity issues. Even within Mexico they are clamping down on avenues of public transmission (schools, restaurants, concerts, etc…). I don’t think its jumping the gun to watch customs for ill travelers from there at least until a vaccine can be produced in sufficient quantities – which has to be months away.

  • alumiere

    there are two things no one is talking about here

    the tradition in naming flu outbreaks like this is that it is generally named after the region the disease first appeared in (this also happens with other highly communicable diseases btw)

    the second and bigger concern for me is that if the disease is called the swine flu many undereducated, esl, etc people of both jewish and muslim faith will believe that to admit they have caught this illness will make them unclean (because like way too many people they’ll believe that this is related to eating swine/trayf)

    they won’t seek out treatment for fear of being ridiculed as unclean, and could easily spread the virus further and faster than would otherwise occur

    admittedly, i agree that people who think this illness is caused by eating pork are rather stupid, but the media isn’t helping the situation, and those who can’t/don’t read the accurate information could die and/or pass the disease onto someone else who will

    fwiw, remember GRID (now AIDS?) and how little attention the disease got for the first few years becuase it was “just a gay disease”? i got very very lucky, but i lost a lot of friends and lovers to GRID/AIDS because until the name was changed only the gay community was trying to find a way to fight the disease and their resources were too limited to do much… but when the name was changed to AIDS, suddenly people like Liz Taylor were pushing for better funding and more research

    • mexican

      alumiere I agree with you… I also think people that think that this virus is caused by mexicans are rather stupid… we ALL are victims of some suspicious situation… this virus has been created obviously inside a laboratory.

  • nojojojo

    alumiere,

    Actually several people keep talking about those two things, but they’re completely irrelevant to my point.

    I never said anything about the name “swine flu”. I agree that the disease has nothing to do with pigs and therefore that’s a misleading name, but it still was irrelevant to my point.

    I don’t particularly care about the traditional nomenclature of outbreaks, either, because those traditions are outdated — they were discarded decades ago when organizations like WHO realized they were equally misleading (e.g., people might feel complacent about German Measles because they’ve never been to Germany). Instead health organizations use a scientific method of naming — and while the public might opt for a name that’s less tongue-tying, they still don’t usually use region-based names anymore. SARS was not called “Chinese Bronchitis” or whatever. 2004-5′s avian influenza was not called “Thai Flu” or “Southeast Asian Flu” — just bird flu. And as you’ve pointed out, AIDS was not called “African Bad Stuff” or whatever. I do recall a brief period of the public calling it “gay cancer”, but that was before it became publicly known that it was far, far worse than cancer, and yes, that it affected far more than that population.

    So for that old naming system to be resurrected by the Republicans — and the revival is being done purposefully, to fit in with their political agenda — it tells me two things: one, that they don’t care about the well-being of the world’s pig population; they’re just trying to score political points. Two, it tells me once again that the Republicans are frighteningly behind the times — using outdated nomenclature shows they don’t care about people who might be confused and think they’re safe because they’ve never been to Mexico, or aren’t of Mexican descent, or whatever. If they’re trying to argue that “Mexican flu” is a better name than “swine flu”, they’re really not helping; the thing is airborne and has been international almost from jump. That train left the building before the kids in Queens got sick.

    So to bring this back to my point, it isn’t the practice of region-based naming that I’m going after. That made sense back when science couldn’t isolate viruses well and they had no other way to distinguish between strains of a disease. My point is that we no longer live in the Dark Ages, so the only reason to resort to that nomenclature now is to fit the conservative agenda. Fits right in with their historical pattern of using racism as a political tool.

  • alumiere

    sorry if i misunderstood – i think we’re looking at this from two different perspectives; i had seen the name mexican flu used all over the place, and requested as a change specifically to replace swine flu

    so my response was more to this: blame the swine flu and the subsequent guardian report that this may be related to a pig farm

    because everyplace i’ve seen “mexican flu” used (with the exception of the alter.net site you linked) it has nothing to do with blaming it on anyone, rather giving a different name to prevent people from ignoring symptoms and making the situation worse

    i obviously need to look at more right wing sites before responding to topics about something they’re saying; i’ll try to do better in the future – your writing and the conversations that develop deserve that

  • Werner Strasser

    Nothing racist about the international designation of “Mexican Flu”, because the geographical location of first outbreak is the name that will be assigned until more is known about it.

    The only exception is the “Sanish Flu” which also is a H1N1 flu but originated from Kansas USA. Calling the Mexican flu “swine flu” or or even “H1N1″ is totally misleading because there are too many H1N1s and this H1N1 is certainly not the “Spanish flu”:

    H1N1 1918: “Spanish flu” Pandemic
    H2N2 1957-58: “Asian flu” Pandemic
    H3N2 1968-69: “Hong Kong flu” Pandemic
    H1N1 1977: “Russian flu” Infects Humans
    H5N1 1997: Infects Humans
    H9N2 1999: Infects Humans
    H7N2 2002: Infects Humans
    2003: Multiple Events (Appearance of new nfluenza)
    H5N1: Caused two Hong Kong family members to be hospitalized H7N7: In the first reported cases 89 people died (poultry) H7N2: Caused a person to be hospitalized in New York.
    H9N2: Caused illness in one child in Hong Kong.

    2004: Multiple Events (Appearance of new influenza)
    H5N1: So-called Avian Flu causes illness in 47 people, is quite deadly, is becoming endemic in Asia.
    H7N3: Is reported for the first time in humans (poultry workers)
    H10N7:Is reported for the first time in humans (poultry workers)
    H5N1 2005-2007: “Avian Flu” Fears Rise

    H1N1 2009: “Mexican flu” Infects Humans. A new H1N1
    virus containing swine, avian and human genes emerges in the
    Mexico, falsely called “swine flu,”

  • Werner Strasser

    Update on the official international name for the new flu:

    A/H1N1…. “American H1N1 Flu”.

    I hope this should be concealed enough to make everyone happy.
    It further proofs that the geography is still seen as important in naming the virus.

  • I am reading a lot of comments where some people are trying to move away from the post at hand and interject their assumptions and prejudices and still insist on them after it’s been pointed out how incorrect they are. Who cares what you meant or what region or who named something at one time. What we are talking about NOW is a viral illness and the use of it by the same old racist (white) men and the other clueless people who hear the dog whistle and are too stupid to realize they’re falling for the okey doke. Or perhaps they know exactly what they’re doing and are here to spread dissent. This is your cease order. I haven’t seen any response adding to the conversation just a lot of obfuscation tactics. I wouldn’t be so kind to gently explain the ABCs to people who are clearly over the age of 5, know how to read and should be putting their THINKING CAPS on!

  • Werner Strasser

    More info is surfacing that the virus most likely was actually exported from North America to Mexico by a migrant worker. The name “Mexican Flu” has become a political hot potato. The cover-up techniques by the Obama administration are very apparent.

    All flu-cases in the current epidemic are confirmed to be the new virus officially named A/California/04/2009(H1N1), meaning Influenza-type A, Subtype H1N1, Lab No. 4, harvested on 18. April 2009 from a throat swab of a 9 year-old infected patient in San Diego.

    Mexican authorities now have strong evidence that a migrant worker by the name of La Glorias imported the virus from the USA and caused the initial infection of about 400 people in Mexico (called ground zero) at the end of March 2009. Two of the infected children died of pneumonia, while a young boy, Edgar Hernandez, the suspected „Patient Zero“, recovered from it completely. In addition, none of the pigs of the Smithfield Foods pig breading farm located in the boy’s area (ground zero) tested positive for any kind of flu.

    The history of the infection explains what Obama meant when he stated that “it doesn’t make any sense closing the barn-door after the horses are out”. The horses cam from the USA, so why prevent Mexicans from entering the US when it should be the other way around?

    Considering all the facts an ignorant person or a racist only would insist on calling it the “Mexican flu”.

  • nojojojo

    Werner,

    Please provide some source links, so we can all read the same information you’re using to come up with your thoughts on this.

  • Ty

    Wow, you people are crazy… This isn’t that complicated… It’s standard nomenclature to name a virus after its origin. Hence, we have Ebola, Spanish Flu, Russian Flu, Asian Flu, Hong Kong Flu, Marburg, Four Corners Virus, etc. This has NOTHING to do with Republicans, the Right, or racism in any way. It’s the way most viruses are named. We say SPANISH FLU when we refer to that particular strain of swine flu, and in a couple years when everyone stops whining about the racism of naming a virus by its place of origin, we will call this outbreak the Mexican Flu. Or else, we’ll have to rename Ebola and Spanish Flu and Russian Flu and Asian Flu and Hong Kong Flu and Marburg and Four Corners Virus… because of how racist Republicans were in choosing those names, too. Give me a break.

    • Lynn

      Ty,

      I understand your reasoning for justifying the term “Mexican flu,” as you argue that historically we have named other viruses in similar ways. However, just because we have acted a certain way in the past, does not mean we should continue with that logic. Naming a virus, and a fatal one I might add, in relation to an ethnicity is simply a form of othering, and thus it is a form of racism. It is obvious that many anti-immigration groups are using this virus (and the name) as a form of exclusion, which is implicitly racist. Like Nojojojo says, hopefully we will get around to renaming those other diseases because it is simply wrong to project such racist implications.

  • nojojojo

    Ty,

    It’s standard nomenclature to name a virus after its origin.

    You’re so right! Except, you’re not.

    It used to be standard to name a virus this way, back in the last century. But as I have said in repeated comments down the line (WTH, did this get linked in a “poor reading comprehension” forum or something?), all international and most national health authorities have done away with this naming system as misleading and anachronistic. The people in charge of this stuff and the WHO are trying to get rid of naming it after animals for the same reason. Hence we have SARS, AIDS, rotavirus, and other recently-discovered or -isolated diseases that don’t have regionally-based names, and hence we have a concerted effort by health authorities to rename other regionally-named viruses, like norovirus (instead of Norwalk virus). For all I know, they will eventually get around to renaming the diseases you named. Fortunately these organizations care more about the ways names can be misused than, apparently, you do.

  • justice1

    I think you guys are reaching too far in the hopes of finding the racist hiding in the bushes. When I heard the term, “Mexican flu” all the way over here in Italy, I didn’t think of Mexican people. The first thing that came to mind was avoiding college students and travelers who might have recently visited Mexico. I think posts and thinking in this manner serves nothing other than destroying the credibility of those who actually experience racism. This post is more akin to the boy who cried wolf.

  • Corry

    I think the discussion has become too focused on the name of the flu itself, and not on what other’s are using the name to imply. If you’re calling the flu the Mexican flu, and not trying to blame the flu on Mexican immigrants well fine, but when Michelle Malkin, and Michael Savage, and other political pundits use the name to encourage a fear of Mexican immigrants then we have a problem and the name takes on a more frightening meaning with extremely racist implications. When Savage says, “[C]ould this be a terrorist attack through Mexico? Could our dear friends in the radical Islamic countries have concocted this virus and planted it in Mexico knowing that you, [Homeland Security Secretary] Janet Napolitano, would do nothing to stop the flow of human traffic from Mexico?” that sounds a lot like fear mongering to me and it’s comments like these that should be the focus of our discussion. (http://mediamatters.org/research/200904270037?f=h_latest)

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