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Indiana swine flu cases increase to 12

Statement as issued Wednesday by the Indiana State Department of Health:

INDIANAPOLIS – State health officials continue to encourage Hoosiers to take steps to protect themselves at county and 4H 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. 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.

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 your health care provider if you begin 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. Most county fairs have a private veterinary practitioner on call for on-site assistance.

The State Board of Animal Health has encouraged county fair officials to do the following:

• monitor the health of all pigs for any signs of illness at check-in and throughout the event;

• vaccinate pigs, when appropriate; and,

• reduce the number of days the swine are housed on site.

In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 309 infections with variant influenza A H3N2v in the United States. According to the CDC, most of these infections resulted in mild illness, though 16 people were hospitalized and one person died. Most of the people who were hospitalized and the individual who died had one or more high risk conditions.

For more information about variant influenza A H3N2v, visit www.StateHealth.in.gov or follow the Indiana State Department of Health on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/isdh1.

Send items for The Scoop to jgnews@jg.net.

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