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Flu outbreak strikes Indiana fair, CDC offers precautions
08.03.2012Four antendees at the LaPorte County Fair, held from July 8 to 14 at the eponymous county in Indiana, were stricken with an influenza A variant virus. The contagion is similar to the common seasonal flu virus, and often infects pigs while rarely affecting humans. Three Indiana state agencies are looking into what caused the outbreak. All four persons came into contact with infected pigs. All 12 of the pigs randomly selected for testing were diagnosed with the virus.
The influenza virus A has only infected 17 people in the U.S. since 2011, including the four from the state fair, according to the Indiana State Department of Health. Six of those cases did not seem to relate to handling swine, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says there's no evidence that the virus commonly spreads from human to human. More than 33 percent of the 17 instances within the past year occurred in Indiana. The rest transpired in geographically disparate states.
As the flu generally isn't life threatening, most urgent care facilities could help flu-ridden patients receive care a good deal more quickly than if they made an appointment with their primary care doctor or sought help from emergency department physicians.
"Fairs are an important event for exhibitors and their swine, and a great experience for fairgoers, but they are a venue for contact between people and swine," said Dan Jernigan, influenza division deputy director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In a statement from the CDC, Jernigan continued to say he considers influenza A an issue to "watch closely," as a few similar mini-outbreaks occurred at fairs last year.
Catching the flu from a pig could certainly ruin an afternoon at the fair. Typical flu symptoms include fever or chills, sore throat, runny or congested nose, aches, exhaustion and occasionally vomiting and diarrhea.
To avoid catching this flu, the CDC recommends washing hands before and after handling farm animals, not eating in the presence of animals, taking extra caution to follow these guidelines with children and the elderly, keeping a close eye on animals to ensure they're not sick and not touching them if they appear ill. Furthermore, if an individual feels sick, he or she should stay away from highly susceptible pigs.
The Indiana State Department of Health recommends that anyone who resides in the state and who regularly works with swine and starts exhibiting flu symptoms get in touch with their healthcare provider or a local health department. Checking into an immediate care clinic may very well be a wise decision.
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