The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with the Ohio Department of Health, have confirmed additional cases of influenza caused by the H3N2v virus.
As of August 6th, health authorities identified 14 human cases of "swine flu." These cases have been linked to swine exposure at the Butler County Fair. Additionally, one confirmed human case in Clark County has been linked to swine exposure at the Ohio State Fair. ODH, in a press release, says those with confirmed cases of H3N2v are between the ages of 3 and 36 years old. So far, none of the confirmed cases have resulted in hospitalization.
ODH hosted a statewide conference call with all local health departments to provide an update on the situation on Monday, August 6th. Local health departments now know to work with agriculture and fair officials to ensure necessary signage for public safety. They will speak directly with those working in livestock facilities to ensure necessary care is taken to avoid further transmission of the H3N2v strain. Farm workers who 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.
Along with local health departments and health care providers, ODH continues to track any reports of human influenza-like illness. Individuals who have reported close contact with swine and are exhibiting flu-like systems need to undergo testing. Samples will first go to the ODH laboratory for preliminary testing, and then to CDC for confirmation.
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.