Multiple Ohio health authorities have concerns an outbreak of swine flu may have occurred at a county fair.
Three agencies, the Ohio Departments of Health (ODH) and Agriculture (ODA), along with the Butler County Health Department, have started to look into human illnesses associated with the Butler County Fair. Initial laboratory results on ten samples indicate similarities to the influenza virus of H3N2 type. All individuals in Butler County's investigation had direct contact with swine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have not yet finished an analysis to issue a final determination on any of the cases.
Health officials wish to emphasize that fair attendance is safe. Visitors should remember to always wash their hands after being in close-proximity to livestock, as well as to keep food and drink out of animal exhibits. All fair animals, especially pigs, receive checks from veterinarians to monitor for illness and signs of flu-like symptoms every day they are at the fair. This protects the health of both the people visiting the fair, and the other animals in the barns.
Influenza viruses such as H3N2 and its variants are typical in swine. These viruses may be directly transmitted from swine to people and from people to swine in the same way that all viruses may be transmitted between people. When humans are in close proximity to live infected swine, such as in barns and livestock exhibits at fairs, movement of these viruses can occur back and forth between humans and animals. Influenza viruses cannot be transmitted by eating pork or pork products, however.
Individuals should always wash hands with soap and water before and after petting or touching any animal. Never eat, drink, or put anything in your mouth in animal areas. Older adults, pregnant women, young children, and people with weakened immune systems should be extra careful around animals.
People who have direct, routine contact with swine, such as working in swine barns or showing swine at fairs, and have experienced cough or influenza-like illness, should contact their health care provider or local health department. Symptoms include cough, sore throat, fever, body aches, and possibly other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.