In the Loop: Winners of the 'Name That Flu' Contest

By Al Kamen
Friday, June 19, 2009

Just when you thought the swine flu was behind us, the World Health Organization is saying it's a pandemic -- and concern is building that it could return during flu season this fall with a more powerful wallop. With that in mind, here are the winners of the In the Loop Name That Flu contest, aimed at finding a moniker catchier than H1N1, neutral on Mexico and fair to America's pork producers.

The many hundreds of entries -- coming from as far away as Afghanistan, Slovakia, El Salvador and New Zealand -- sifted themselves into broad categories: slams on 24/7 media hype; plays on the H1N1 name, some trying to work out anagrams that will be easier for people to remember; and creative ways to avoid defaming Mexico or speaking ill of pigs.

This being Washington, there were also a number of political shots at NAFTA and at Smithfield Co.'s meatpacking plant right near the epicenter of the flu's origin. So, in no particular order, the winners:

-- Esther Gulli, who works at the University of California at Berkeley, entered "CNN Flu," since "they truly made it what it is today." Chris Parsons, an associate professor at George Mason University, proposed "Fox News Flu."

-- Howard Walderman of Columbia, a longtime lawyer at the Department of Health and Human Services, thought that, since we're in Washington, it should be "Undue Influenza."

-- Kit Hope, a social services worker in Silver Spring, proposed "El Cochinito," Spanish for "little pig." She writes, "It sounds cute and harmless if you don't speak Spanish, it's a nod to Mexico and the swine, but best of all, when the flu comes back in the fall but it's different, we can call it La Cochinita."

-- Tom Parsons, a semi-retired science teacher and medical writer in Whangaparaoa, New Zealand, and Kenneth E. Davis, who works for the Duane Morris lobbying shop in Philadelphia, were first in -- just a few hours apart -- with "NewFlu." Davis predicted it will "disappear as quickly as New Coke," and Parsons noted it could be "recycled as needed."

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