The Centers for Disease Control called a news conference today to explain an uptick in human cases of influenza H3N2 from contact with swine at fairs, emphasizing this comes as fair season accelerates, the cases are mild and so far this year they do not appear to be transmitted human-to-human .
The cases also have nothing to do with consuming pork.
“This is not a pandemic,” Dr. Joseph Bresee from the CDC’s Influenza Division told reporters as he broke down the current 145 current cases by state: Indiana (113); Ohio (30); Illinois (1); and Hawaii (1).
Two cases resulted in hospitalizations, but both people have been released and have recovered. The rest of the cases have been mild. There have been no deaths.
While acknowledging there has been a real increase this summer from only a handful of cases per year reported in previous years, he also noted changes in the way “positives” are identified has also played a role.
Previously, all cases identified by state agencies had to be confirmed in CDC labs.
This year, states can confirm their own positives, even though those results are still forwarded to the CDC for review.
The CDC updates its statistics weekly on Fridays and Bresee said the number of cases is expected to rise.
He said the vast majority of those infected were children and all had direct contact with swine.
Farm children show the hogs they raise at county and state fairs and spend a lot of time caring for the animals while at the fair.
CDC suggests high-risk populations avoid direct contact with live swine.
Those include: children younger than 5 years, people 65 years and older, pregnant women, and people with certain chronic medical conditions who are at high risk for serious complications if they get any type of influenza.
Those with direct contact should wash hands frequently, avoid eating or drinking in animal areas and avoid close contact with pigs that look or act ill.
Bresee said the animal agriculture community has been “very aggressive” in screening pigs going into fairs and keeping sick pigs away from the fairs.
The CDC is not recommending the general public do anything differently, as exposure to this influenza strain is so closely associated with direct live swine contact.
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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