Swine flu: Epidem-mythology

The only thing that spreads faster than new viruses are tall tales about those viruses: lack of knowledge and abundance of fear make for perfect myth-breeding conditions.  (Exhibit A: AIDS.)  This is especially true with animal-origin diseases, which echo ancient prohibitions against intimate animal-human contact. (The cause of 1976 cases of human swine flu at Fort Dix remains obscure.) With the storied swine, which both Judaism and Islam consider unclean, myths run rampant. Pig prohibitions are so strong that Israel has officially re-named swine flu “Mexican flu,” apparently out of fear that symptomatic Jews might feel shame at getting treatment, though you can not get swine flu from eating pork.

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