The National Pork Board has produced a new fact sheet entitled, “Understanding Influenza Naming,” to help explain where influenza (flu) references originate.  Fact sheet author Jennifer Koeman, DVM, National Pork Board, explains that influenza viruses have circulated in humans and animals for centuries. Some flu viruses will infect only one type of animal, while others have the ability to move between species.

Because people sometimes get confused about what they should call influenza viruses in people and in pigs, the World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with several federal and international health organizations, recently announced a standardized naming convention. Influenza viruses that normally circulate in pigs and may infect humans will be referred to as “variant influenza viruses,” designated by a “v.” “Variant” designates the virus as one that varies from infecting only the species that is its usual host.

The new standardized naming convention will allow the media to use more accurate terminology to communicate to consumers and will help reinforce to consumers that they cannot get the flu from eating or handling pork and pork products.

Learn more about the influenza naming process at the National Pork Board Web site