Don't let the swine flu ruin your fun at the state fair this summer
Any families headed to the Missouri or Illinois State Fair this weekend (fairs run from Aug. 9-19) should be aware of new reports about a sharp rise in the swine flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the H3N2v virus (swine flu ) has mild symptoms and is not spreading from person to person just yet, but mostly through contact with infected pigs. Cases have been seen in neighboring states including Illinois, Indiana and Ohio and mostly involve children who have been exposed to pigs at agricultural fairs.
Infectious diseases experts with SSM Health Care – St. Louis want people to know that this news doesn't mean you have to cancel your plans to attend the state and county fairs, but just be extra careful to wash your hands after visiting the animals and avoid taking food and drinks into livestock barns. Also avoid close contact with any animals that look or act ill. People who are at high risk for influenza complications (e.g., underlying chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, or neurological conditions, or who are pregnant or younger than 5 years, older than 65 years of age or have weakened immune systems) should consider avoiding exposure to pigs and swine barns this summer.
Additional information from the CDC about the H3N2v virus (swine flu):
- The seasonal flu vaccine does not protect against the H3N2v virus.
- Patients who experience influenza-like symptoms following direct or close contact with pigs and who seek medical care should inform their health care provider about the exposure.
- Patients with influenza-like illness who are at high risk for influenza complications (e.g., underlying chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, or neurological conditions, or who are pregnant or younger than 5 years, older than 65 years of age or have weakened immune systems) should see their health care provider promptly to determine if treatment with antiviral medications is warranted.
- Influenza viruses have not been shown to be transmissible to people through eating properly handled and prepared pork or other products derived from pigs. For more information about the proper handling and preparation of pork, visit the USDA website fact sheet “Fresh Pork from Farm to Table.”
Links to upcoming Missouri and Illinois county fairs running Aug. 2012