Israeli official: Swine flu name offensive

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A couple wears surgical masks while riding the subway in Mexico City.

By Associated Press

JERUSALEM (AP) - An Israeli health official doesn't like the name swine flu and wants it changed to "Mexican" in deference to Jewish and Muslim sensitivities about pork.

Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman tells a news conference the reference to pigs is offensive to both religions.

Both Judaism and Islam consider pigs unclean and forbid the eating of pork products.

Scientists, however, say there is nothing about the virus that makes it "Mexican" and worry such a label would be stigmatizing. They're unsure where the new swine flu virus originally emerged, though it was identified first in the United States.

Two Israelis who recently visited Mexico have been hospitalized with symptoms of the flu. Health authorities have not yet confirmed whether they actually have the virus.

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