April 27, 2009 / 1:02 PM / 8 years ago

World animal health body says swine flu wrong name

PARIS (Reuters) - The flu virus spreading around the world should not be called “swine flu” as it also contains avian and human components and no pig was found ill with the disease so far, the World Animal Health body said on Monday.

A more logical name for it would be “North-American influenza,” a name based on its geographic origin just like the Spanish influenza, another human flu pandemic with animal origin that killed more than 50 million people in 1918-1919.

“The virus has not been isolated in animals to date. Therefore it is not justified to name this disease swine influenza,” the Paris-based organization said in a statement.

Fears of a global flu pandemic are growing around the world after 103 people were killed in Mexico and new infections were found in the United States and Canada and possible cases as far afield as Europe, Israel and New Zealand.

The OIE warned that if the virus was shown to cause disease in animals virus circulation could worsen the regional and global situation for public health.

Fears there could be a global flu pandemic which would hurt fragile world economies has led to a broad-based decline in stocks, oil and other commodity markets on Monday.

Grain and oilseed markets fells harply on concern that the outbreak could reduce feed demand for grain-hungry pigs.

Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide, Editing by Peter Blackburn

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