Some years ago, Nial Moores of Birds Korea advocated renaming bird flu as poultry flu.
Much the same arguments here, in a letter to the South China Morning Post published on 17 Feb 2014:
Considering other names for bird flu
Here is a modest proposal regarding the report (“China’s poultry industry wants to hush up bird flu news in damage control bid”, February 5).
I see that the National Animal Husbandry Association website calls for eliminating the word “bird” from media coverage of the H7N9 avian influenza virus.
The association suggests that officials and the media use the terms “H7N9 flu” or “H7N9 virus,” without the use of the word bird.
I have a slightly different proposal, to reduce an unjustified stigma while still encouraging appropriate precautionary behaviour by the public.
I propose that instead of calling it “H7N9 bird flu”, the media should refer to it as “H7N9 poultry flu”.
After all, this dangerous-to-humans avian influenza virus has not been found in wild birds – it has only been found in poultry and pigeons. So it is not correct to stigmatise all birds.
Perhaps another name that would be useful would be “H7N9 live animal market flu”, since exposure to such markets are most strongly associated with the human cases.
Additionally, your article cites Xinhua as reporting that Guangdong has stopped sharing unsolicited reports of human cases in recent days.
In the absence of specific information about cases from Guangdong, it might be useful to the public if the media refer to this second wave of human H7N9 poultry influenza cases as the “Guangdong-Zhejiang Wave”, since most of the second wave cases are from those two provinces, so far.
In April 2013, one week after reports of the first human H7N9 bird flu cases in China, Xinhua published an astonishing editorial, “Ten years after Sars, what has China learned?”
The very last line of that editorial bears repeating:
“If there is anything that Sars has taught China and its government, it’s that one cannot be too careful or too honest when it comes to deadly pandemics. The last 10 years have taught the government a lot, but it is far from enough.”
Jody Lanard M. D., risk communication consultant, The Peter Sandman Risk Communication Website, New York, US