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Don’t pet the pig — New ‘swine flu’ cases confirmed
As many county and state fairs occur across the nation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are warning children to limit their exposure to swine, due to an increase of novel (non-human) Influenza A H3N2 variant, or “V” virus. Unlike the H1N1 influenza that swept across the United States in 2009, more than half of the recent cases are being linked to exposure to swine carrying the disease.
H3N2, according to Dr. Joseph Bresee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in an Aug. 9 press briefing transcript, was first detected in July 2011. Thus far, most cases have occurred in children. Most have been mild, with only two confirmed hospitalizations reported.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “This virus is related to human flu viruses from the 1990s, so adults should have some immunity ... .”
As of Aug. 9, 2012, 145 cases have been confirmed -- Hawaii and Illinois, one case each; Ohio with 30 cases; and 113 cases in Indiana. Prior to the July outbreak, 13 cases were confirmed in Iowa, Maine, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Utah.
Symptoms include fever and respiratory symptoms -- cough and runny nose -- accompanied by body aches, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
If you seek medical assistance, it is suggested that you inform the doctor if the patient has been in direct or close contact with swine.
For those concerned about pork consumption, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that “swine influenza has not been shown to be transmissible to people through eating properly handled and prepared pork (pig meat) or other products derived from pigs.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture -- Agricultural Research Service stated the H3N2 virus was first detected in 1998 in the United States from epidemics of respiratory disease in fattening pigs and sows, and abortions. The H3N2 virus isolates were found to be a combination of “type A influenza viruses from birds, humans, and swine, and others were just a combination of avian and swine influenza virus subtypes.”
H3N2 Influenza prevention tips
Dr. Joseph Bresee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests the following to prevent the spread of the flu virus between people and swine:
•“Wash your hands frequently with soap and water before and after exposure to the animals.
•Never eat or drink, or put things in your mouth while in animal areas.
•Never bring food or drink into animal areas.
•If you’re at high risk for flu infection like elderly, young children, people with underlying diseases, think about avoiding pig exposure altogether when you go to the fairs.
•Avoid close contact with animals that look or act ill, when possible.”
Other recommendations include:
•“Avoid contact with pigs if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms.
•If you must come in contact with pigs while you are sick, or if you must come in contact with pigs known or suspected to be infected, or their environment, you should use appropriate protective measures (for example, wear protective clothing, gloves, masks that cover your mouth and nose, and other personal protective equipment) and practice good respiratory and hand hygiene.”
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