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STATE HEALTH DEPARTMENT SUGGESTS SAFETY TIPS FOR FAIR SEASON
(Richmond, Va.) The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reminds those attending agricultural fairs this summer and fall to take precautions when coming in contact with swine. An influenza virus that normally circulates in pigs, called influenza A H3N2v, may spread to humans more easily than usual. This H3N2v virus was circulating in pigs in 2010 and was first detected in people in 2011.
“We encourage people to enjoy the many agricultural fairs around the Commonwealth,” said State Health Commissioner Cynthia C. Romero, MD, FAAFP. “However, it is important that they take certain precautions to protect their health while having a good time.”
In 2012, a multi-state outbreak of H3N2v resulted in 309 cases nationwide; there were no cases in Virginia. Since June of this year, Indiana has reported 12 cases of H3N2v infection. Similar to the cases identified in 2012, the majority of infections are associated with exposure to pigs, with many exposures occurring at agricultural fairs. An additional case of H3N2v infection has been confirmed in a non-Virginia resident who had close and prolonged contact with pigs at a fair in the northwest region of the state.
Unlike regular flu, H3N2v is not commonly transmitted from human-to-human. People will not get the virus from eating pork.
“Most people who get sick experience mild flu-like symptoms similar to seasonal flu infection; however, serious complications can occur in people who have underlying medical conditions,” said Dr. Romero. To help reduce the spread of the H3N2v virus and provide early treatment, VDH has asked clinicians statewide to be on the lookout for signs and symptoms of influenza in their patients and to ask about any exposure to swine in the previous seven days.
The following guidelines can help reduce the spread of influenza viruses between pigs and people:
For more information visit www.vdh.virginia.gov