Pennsylvania reports cases of "new" swine flu
Four confirmed and six probable human cases of influenza have been reported in Pennsylvania due to a new strain of the flu known as H3N2v, the state Department of Health has announced.
While this strain typically is associated with swine, both the departments of Health and Agriculture said that handling or eating pork products presents no risk of exposure to this flu strain.
The cases occurred among youth participants in the Huntingdon County Fair, Aug. 5-11. There are no reported hospitalizations. Although the investigation is ongoing, there is no evidence to date of the new flu strain spreading from person-to-person.
This same virus recently caused illness in Indiana and Ohio, mostly among children who were exhibitors at or attended agricultural fairs. The illnesses reported in Pennsylvania are also mostly in children and are typical for the flu.
"People should use common sense and take steps to protect their health if they're visiting or exhibiting in a county fair in the coming weeks, especially if they are at high risk for illness," Secretary of Health Eli N. Avila said.
Dr. Avila said fair attendees should wash their hands after visiting areas with live animals and avoid carrying food or drink or putting things in their mouth while in these areas. People at high risk of flu complications, including children younger than 5, people 65 years old or older, pregnant women and people with chronic conditions or weakened immune systems, should use caution and consider avoiding areas where live pigs are displayed.
Symptoms of the H3N2v flu are similar to that of seasonal influenza, and would include fever, coughing, fatigue, and lack of appetite. Other influenza symptoms may include a runny nose, sore throat, muscle aches, eye irritation, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Anyone with flu-like illness who has been in contact with live animals including pigs at agricultural fairs or on farms in the week before they got sick should contact their healthcare providers immediately.