INDIANAPOLIS — State health officials continue to encourage Hoosiers to take steps to protect themselves at county and 4-H fairs around the state this summer following detection of 12 cases of variant influenza A (H3N2v), also known as swine influenza.
At least 10 individuals had exposure to swine at the Grant and Hancock County Fairs and one individual had contact with swine at their home farm.
Variant influenza A H3N2v was identified in Indiana last year, with a total of 138 cases in 2012.
The Indiana State Department of Health and local health departments continue to investigate these cases.
Human infections with swine influenza are rare but have most commonly occurred after close proximity to live infected pigs, such as working with them in barns and livestock exhibits at fairs.
Influenza viruses are not transmitted by eating pork and pork products.
“There’s no reason why Hoosiers shouldn’t enjoy our county and 4H fairs this summer,” said State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D.
“But now that we know swine influenza is circulating, it’s going to be important to take some extra precautions around the animals.”
Since there is no vaccine available for people to protect against this variant influenza A virus, the best way to prevent infection is to avoid sources of exposure to the virus.
What to do
When spending time around animals this summer, State health officials recommend the following:
•Wash hands with soap and water before and after petting or touching any animal.
•Never eat, drink or put anything in your mouth when visiting animal areas and avoid face-to-face contact with animals.
•People at high risk for flu complications should avoid close contact with swine in the fair setting particularly.
What to know
Symptoms of variant influenza A include: fever, cough, sore throat, chills, headache and muscle aches.
Diarrhea and nausea may occur in children. Symptoms can begin approximately one to four days after being exposed to the illness and last from two to seven days.
State health officials recommend contacting a health care provider if someone begins experiencing flu-like symptoms.
And if you have visited a fair or been around animals, let your health care provider know.
Influenza antiviral drugs can treat infection with this type of flu and quick treatment is especially important for people who are at high risk of serious flu complications, including the very young, the elderly, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes and heart disease and pregnant women.
According to the State Board of Animal Health, 29 pigs from the Grant and Hancock county fairs have tested positive for influenza.
It is not uncommon for pigs to be infected with swine influenza viruses, but not show any signs of illness. If ill with influenza they typically recover.
While influenza is not an uncommon diagnosis in pigs, the State Board of Animal Health encourages swine owners to contact a veterinarian if their animals show signs consistent with flu, including coughing, respiratory illness, off-feed and fever.