Health officials remind fairgoers to take H3N2v precautions

The CDC suggests simple steps for persons having contact with swine at county fairs to prevent spread of H3N2v virus, commonly known as “swine flu.”

The number of individuals infected with H3N2v, commonly referred to as “H3N2v,” has increased across the country since mid-July, so Michigan State University (MSU) Extension educators urge fairgoers to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) precautions for interacting with pigs at county and state fairs.

MSU Extension educatorElaine M. Bush explained that influenza viruses can be directly transmitted from swine to people and from people to swine. There is no risk of contracting the virus from consuming pork or pork products.

To date, the CDC has reported 154 confirmed cases of human H3N2v infection, with 120 of these occurring in Indiana and 31 in Ohio. Health officials determined that the infections occurred after contact with swine.

The CDC’s August 3 release included the following recommendations:

  • Persons who are at high risk for influenza complications (e.g., those with underlying chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or neurological conditions, or those who are pregnant or younger than 5 years or older than 65 years of age, or have weakened immune systems) should consider avoiding exposure to pigs and swine barns this summer, especially if ill pigs have been identified.
  • Persons engaging in activities that involve swine contact should wash their hands frequently with soap and running water before and after exposure to pigs.
  • Never eat, drink or put things in your mouth while in animal areas; never take food or drink into animal areas.
  • Persons exhibiting swine should monitor them for signs of illness and contact a veterinarian if they suspect the pigs might be ill.
  • All people should avoid close contact with animals that look or act ill.
  • Persons with influenza-like symptoms should avoid contact with pigs.

If you must come in contact with pigs while you are sick, the CDC explained, or if you must come in contact with pigs known or suspected to be infected with H3N2v, take appropriate protective measures: wear protective clothing, gloves and masks that cover the mouth and nose, and practice good respiratory and hand hygiene.

Human H3N2v cases result in suffering from the common symptoms of influenza: fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat and muscle aches. Individuals who experience flu-like symptoms following direct or close contact with pigs should inform their health care providers about the exposure to determine if treatment with antiviral medication is needed.

To learn more about H3N2v, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.