Indiana Swine Flu Outbreak Linked to County Fair Pigs: CDC

Pigs at a county fair may have sparked a small swine flu outbreak in Indiana, government health experts say. 

A report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has linked four people who fell ill with the flu in early July to pigs at a county fair. Two of those who fell ill sought emergency medical care and the other two were found during the course of the investigation. All four have recovered.

Samples taken by the Indiana State Department of Health and the Indiana Board of Animal Health identified the flu strain as the influenza A H3N2v virus. They also determined that all four people had been working with a dozen pigs that tested positive for the H3N2 virus, which is highly similar to the H3N2v infection that the humans contracted.

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H3N2v is a variant of the so-called swine flu virus, H1N1. Normally these viruses will not infect humans, but several strains have mutated to jump species. The severity of the H3N2v is about the same as the seasonal flu.

Fortunately, H3N2v does not spread easily between humans and there have only been 17 cases of infection reported since August 2011. That makes an instance of four in one place all the more notable.

The CDC instructed doctors who suspect that a patient has the flu and recently had contact with pigs should do a nasal swab and ask their state public health agency to conduct an analysis. The CDC also recommended that doctors treat those patients with an antiviral treatment like oral oseltamivir or inhaled zanamivir.

People who have regular contact with swine should understand that the flu can be transmitted from pigs to humans. They should frequently wash their hands and avoid close contact with sick-looking or acting animals. If they have the flu or think they might have the flu, they should avoid contact with swine, the CDC also warns.


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