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Swine flu identified in Oakland County fair exhibitor

The health department offers tips for preventing the spread of the disease.

August 18, 2023

2 Min Read
Newspaper headline Swine Flu epidemic
SWINE FLU: Swine flu viruses spread among pigs, and while rare, they can spread from pigs to people. LilliDay/Getty Images

A human case of influenza A H3 variant — also known as swine flu — has been detected in a Lapeer County resident who was an exhibitor at the Oakland County Fair.

A respiratory specimen tested “presumptive positive” for swine flu and has been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmatory testing, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The Oakland County Health Division has been contacting swine exhibitors and their families who visited the swine barns at the fair to identify any additional illnesses in those who may have been exposed to influenza from infected pigs.

“Visitors of the Oakland County Fair should monitor for flu-like symptoms: fever, respiratory symptoms like cough and runny nose, and body aches, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea,” says Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive.

There is no vaccine for influenza A H3, and the seasonal flu vaccine will not protect against it.

Along with basic reminders on handwashing and avoiding contact with sick people, MDHHS offered the following suggestions for preventing the spread of swine flu:

  • Refrain from eating or drinking in livestock barns or show rings.

  • Do not take toys, pacifiers, cups, baby bottles, strollers or similar items into pig areas.

  • Anyone who is at high risk of serious flu complications and planning to attend a fair should avoid pigs and swine barns.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

  • Avoid contact with pigs if you have flu-like symptoms. Wait seven days after your illness started or until you have been without fever for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications, whichever is longer.

“Swine flu viruses spread among pigs and — while rare — they can spread from pigs to people too,” MDHHS wrote in a statement. “Spread of swine flu viruses from a pig to a person is thought to happen in the same way that human flu viruses spread — mainly through droplets when infected pigs cough and sneeze.”

“Signs of swine flu in pigs can include fever, depression, coughing (barking), discharge from the nose or eyes, sneezing, breathing difficulties, eye redness or inflammation, and going off feed,” Birchmeier said. “Some pigs infected with influenza, however, may show no signs of illness at all.”

While most outbreaks occur during the late fall and winter months, swine influenza viruses can circulate among swine throughout the year, meaning livestock exhibitors should be constantly monitoring show animals for symptoms.

To learn more about swine flu in pigs, visit aphis.usda.gov. 

Source: MDHHS

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