NEW YORK (JTA) — The swine flu will not take any new names in Israel despite the unease of a health official from a fervently religious party.
Deputy health minister Yakov Litzman, a member of United Torah Judaism, said earlier this week that the name "swine flu" should not be used as it contains the name of the unkosher animal. Litzman suggested that authorities call the virus sweeping the globe "Mexican flu."
But Mexico’s ambassador to Israel, Frederico Salas, and the Jewish state’s envoy to Mexico, Yosef Livne, both lodged official complaints Tuesday to the Israeli Foreign Ministry protesting the term.
A Foreign Ministry official told the French news agency AFP that Salas "was offended" by the term "Mexican flu."
"Israel has no intention of giving the flu any new names," the official said. "It was nothing more than a slip of the tongue."
Two Israelis who recently returned from Mexico have contracted swine flu in the first such cases in the Middle East. Several other cases are suspected, including the 5-year-old niece of one of the confirmed cases.