Dept. of Health Services reports first human cases of H3N2 virus - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Dept. of Health Services reports first human cases of H3N2 virus

MILWAUKEE -- State and local health officials say there have been two confirmed cases of the variant H3N2 (H3N2v) influenza virus in Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene confirmed the two cases.
Test results show one adult from southeastern Wisconsin who worked at the Wisconsin State Fair contracted the virus. The individual did not report direct contact with swine. 
A second H3N2v infection was found in a western Wisconsin adolescent who was a swine exhibitor at the Wisconsin State.
The individuals were not hospitalized, but are recovering from their illnesses.
Since July 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported more than 150 cases of human infections with H3N2v influenza in Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Hawaii, and Michigan. These human infections have all occurred in persons exposed to, or in proximity to, pigs.
When an influenza virus that normally circulates in swine is detected in a person, it is called a variant influenza virus. Influenza viruses such as H3N2 and its variants are not unusual in swine and can be directly transmitted from swine to people and from people to swine. However, it has not been shown to be transmitted by eating properly handled and prepared pork or other products derived from pigs.  
Although no human-to-human transmission of H3N2v has been documented this year, it is possible that such spread may be shown in the future.
"We encourage people to enjoy all their local fairs have to offer this summer, but to take precautions to reduce the chances of getting H3N2v influenza," State Health Officer Dr. Henry Anderson said. "As with all influenza viruses, certain individuals can become very ill. Older adults, pregnant women, young children, and people with weakened immune systems should be extra careful and avoid exposure to swine barns this season."
Symptoms include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people also have reported runny nose, sore throat, eye irritation, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Most cases have resolved on their own and have not required treatment. Contact your health care provider if you are experiencing flu symptoms and inform the doctor if you have had contact with swine. 
There is no reason to avoid fairs entirely, but to reduce the spread of influenza viruses between pigs and people, CDC recommends these precautions:
  • Wash your hands often with soap and running water before and after exposure to pigs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Never eat, drink or put things in your mouth in pig areas, and don't take food or drink into pig areas.
  • Never take toys, pacifiers, spill-proof cups, baby bottles, strollers or similar items into pig areas.
  • Avoid close contact with pigs that look or act ill.
  • Children younger than 5 years, people 65 years and older, pregnant women, and people with certain chronic medical conditions (like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, weakened immune systems, and neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions) are at high risk from serious complications if they get influenza. These people should consider avoiding exposure to pigs and swine barns this fair season, especially if sick pigs have been identified.
For more information about the H3N2v influenza virus and current investigation, visit the CDC's website.
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