Swine Flu in 5 Pigs at Charles Co. Fair Leads to Quarantine

WASHINGTON — Maryland authorities are investigating five cases of swine flu in pigs that were recently exhibited at the Charles County Fair, which has led to a quarantine of all pigs at the fairgrounds and the cancellation of swine exhibits at two upcoming fairs in neighboring counties.

The Maryland Department of Health said additional testing is underway to determine if the strain of swine flu — officially known as Influenza A — is potentially transmissible to humans. Transmission to humans is rare but possible, the health department said.

The Charles County Fair, which ran from Sept. 14 through Sept. 17, took place at the Charles County fairgrounds in La Plata, Maryland.

All pigs exhibited there are now under a quarantine order and will not be released until seven days after the last pig shows signs of illness. As a further step, Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Joseph Bartenfelder issued an order Tuesday canceling swine exhibits at the upcoming St. Mary’s and Calvert County fairs.

The health department said swine flu infections in humans can occur in people who have handled sick pigs, such as children handling pigs at agricultural fairs and workers in the swine industry.

The symptoms of swine flu are similar to the seasonal flu, including fever, cough and sore throat.

The health department advised people who come down with flu-like symptoms and had contact with pigs in the last seven days to contact their health care providers. The local health department should be contacted if swine flu is suspected.

The Charles County Health Department can be reached at 301-609-6900 ext. 6025 and the St. Mary’s County Health Department can be reached at 301-475-4330.

To report sick pigs, you can reach the state agriculture department at 410-841-5810 or after hours at 410-841-5971.

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