The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now confirm cases in the past week involving 10 people suspected of having influenza in Ohio, as well as one in Indiana, were infected with the H3N2v influenza virus.
In a press release, the CDC said the H3N2v virus contains the M gene from the human influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 (2009 H1N1) virus. Previously, 17 cases detected since July 2011 also had that same virus. These newly confirmed cases occurred in people who had direct or indirect contact with swine prior to their illness. The 10 cases in Ohio were associated with attendance at a fair where reportedly ill swine were present. The H3N2v case reported by Indiana also occurred in a person who attended a fair where swine were present.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, swine influenza surveillance, this swine H3N2 virus with the pandemic M gene has been detected in pigs in a number of U.S. states. This virus may be circulating widely in U.S. swine at this time.
CDC continues to recommend preventive actions people can take to make their fair experience a safe and healthy one. 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 H3N2v 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 take extra precautions 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.