Swine Flu and the County Fair, Stay Safe
The CDC and the Howard County Health Officer have tips for people to stay safe as swine flu incidents increase across the country.
The Howard County Fair is in full swing, and to enjoy it safely the County health officer is warning residents to be extra cautious, particularly around pigs.
That’s because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported an increase in the number of swine flu cases in the United States, though not in Maryland.
In the past week, the A H3N2v – or swine flu virus – has been reported in Hawaii, Ohio and Indiana. In all of the recent cases, according to the CDC, patients came in contact with pigs before getting sick, and most of them were near those pigs at an agricultural fair.
“We want to be sure that local agricultural fair workers and visitors are aware of the situation and informed about precautionary measures they can take,” Health Officer Peter Beilenson said in a statement. “That way everyone can have fun and stay healthy during late summer agricultural activities.”
To stay safe, Beilenson recommends taking these precautions:
• Avoid exposure to pigs if you are at high risk for flu complications: Persons at high risk for influenza complications should consider avoiding exposure to pigs and swine barns this summer, especially if ill pigs have been identified. High‐risk groups include: people with underlying chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, or neurological conditions; pregnant women; children younger than 5 years; adults older than 65 years of age; and those with weakened immune systems.
• Practice thorough hand‐washing: Persons engaging in activities that may involve swine contact, such as attending agricultural events or exhibiting swine, should wash their hands frequently with soap and running water before and after exposure to animals; avoid eating or drinking in animal areas; and avoid close contact with animals that look or act ill. Practice safe food handling and preparation: 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.
• Seek medical care if needed: Signs and symptoms Influenza of A H3N2v are generally consistent with those of seasonal influenza, and include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle pain, and headache. Patients who experience flu‐like symptoms following direct or close contact with pigs and who seek medical care should inform their health care provider about the exposure.