Seven People Get Flu After Contact With Pigs at Charles County Fair

Seven fair-goers in Maryland have tested positive for a strain of the flu after coming in close contact with pigs at the Charles County Fair, health officials say.

The Maryland Department of Health said the seven people tested positive for the influenza virus strain H3N2v, or variant flu. None of the infected have been hospitalized or developed serious illness, the health department said.

Eighteen other cases of H3N2v have been detected in other states this year, according to the health department.

Symptoms for the H3N2v strain are the same as seasonal flu and include fever and respiratory symptoms, such as sore throat and cough. According to the CDC, the virus seems to spread more easily to humans from pigs than other swine influenza viruses.

The treatment recommendations for this strain of influenza are the same as for seasonal flu. Health officials recommend that people with flu-like illness contact their healthcare provider and tell them if they have had contact with pigs within the past seven days.

The spread of influenza between pigs and humans can be prevented by:

  • Washing your hands frequently with soap and running water before and after exposure to pigs
  • Never eating, drinking or putting things in your mouth in pig areas
  • Considering avoiding exposure to pigs and swine barns this summer, especially if sick pigs have been identified and if you are high risk of complications from influenza
  • Watching your pig for signs of illness and calling a veterinarian if you suspect they might be sick
  • Avoiding close contact with pigs that look or act ill
  • Avoiding contact with pigs if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms.
Health care providers are advised to contact their local health departments if they suspect variant flu in their patients to coordinate appropriate testing with their local health department.
The Charles County Health Department can be reached at 301-609-6900 ext. 6025.

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