A new strain of swine flu (H3N2v) virus has been identified in 16 people in three states—Indiana, Ohio and Hawaii—between July 12 and Aug. 1. The is alerting the medical community to be aware of the potential for infection in their patients and recommending the protective actions listed below for all residents.
All 16 cases reported contact with swine prior to illness onset, and all but one reported contact while attending or exhibiting swine at an agricultural fair. While swine flu viruses seldom infect people, such infections can occur. These infections are thought to occur in the same way that seasonal influenza viruses spread among people. Pigs that are infected shed the virus—possibly in coughs or sneezes—and people who are nearby can breathe the virus in. Infection also may occur by a person touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.
It should be noted that influenza viruses have not been shown to be transmitted to people through eating properly handled and prepared pork or other products derived from pigs.
The recommended precautions are similar to those when protecting yourself against the seasonal flu:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water before and after exposure to animals.
- Never eat, drink or put things in your mouth while in animal areas and don’t take food or drink into animal areas.
- Avoid contact with pigs if you are experiencing influenza-like symptoms as people can give influenza to pigs.
- Persons with swine contact who have influenza-like illness (fever, cough, runny nose and possibly vomiting and diarrhea) and who are at high risk for influenza virus complications may wish to go to their doctor and mention they have swine contact. Doctors may prescribe antiviral drugs.
More information about the flu can be found on the Health Department’s website at http://kanehealth.com/flu.htm.
SOURCE: Kane County Health Department