Yesterday, American Agriculturist reported on swine influenza quarantines of hogs at three Maryland county fairs. That number has been increased to four, with confirmation of sick pigs at the Anne Arundel fair plus detection of human infections at the Anne Arundel and Frederick fairs.
Five people who had close contact with the pigs are presumptively positive for H3N2v, a variant strain of swine flu. None have been hospitalized. The investigation into variant flu is ongoing. Updated case count information can be found at Maryland Department of Health.
Test results from sick pigs at the Great Frederick Fair were confirmed as the subtype H3N2, according to Maryland Department of Agriculture. Ninety-five pigs remain in isolation at the fairgrounds.
Three farms in Frederick County also have been placed on a hold order in relation to this outbreak. The affected farms had pigs at the Great Frederick Fair that were discharged before the virus was detected. Nasal swabs from those pigs have been sent out for further testing.
Health officials recommend that people with influenza-like illness contact their health care provider and inform them if they have had pig contact within the past seven days. 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.
Influenza viruses can affect people and other animals, including pigs and birds. Symptoms for the H3N2v strain are the same as for those of seasonal flu — fever and respiratory symptoms, such as sore throat and cough. Treatment recommendations for this strain are the same as for seasonal flu. Seasonal influenza vaccines aren’t effective against H3N2v.
Centers for Disease Control has more swine flu information.
Hog handling preventives
The spread of influenza between pigs and humans can be prevented by these measures:
• Wash hands frequently with soap and running water before and after exposure to pigs.
• Never eat, drink or put things in your mouth while occupying areas where pigs are present.
• Avoid exposure to pigs and swine barns this year, especially if sick pigs have been identified and you’re at high risk of complications from influenza.
• Watch pigs for signs of illness and call a veterinarian if you suspect swine flu.
• Avoid close contact with pigs that look or act ill.
• Avoid contact with pigs if you’re experiencing flu-like symptoms.
Source: Maryland Department of Health