The CDC has reported that there are now 29 cases of human infections of influenza A (H3N2) variant virus, which causes swine flu. There are two new cases reported in three states: one case in Hawaii, 10 cases in Ohio, and one case in Indiana. All of these cases occurred in people who had direct or indirect contact with live pigs before becoming ill.
The ten cases in Ohio were associated with attendance at a state fair. The case in Indiana was also contracted at a state fair. The case count is as follows: Hawaii (1), Indiana (7), Iowa (3), Ohio (10), Maine (2), Pennsylvania (3), Utah (1), and West Virginia (2). The outbreak of this particular variant of the virus began in July 2011.
The CDC stresses that influenza viruses have not been shown to transmit to people through eating properly handled and prepared pork. But note those words “properly handled”. That means washing your hands after handling raw pork, disinfecting work surfaces, cleaning utensils correctly, avoiding cross-contamination, and cooking pork to a safe final internal temperature of at least 145 degrees F.
The virus has acquired the M gene from the 2009 H1N1 virus, which may let the virus be more easily transmitted from pigs to people and through person-to-person contact. The National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians has developed the “Compendium of Measures to Prevent Disease Associated with Animals in Public Settings 2011” that you can download and read. It provides preventative actions people who raise swine, show swine at fairs, or attend fairs should follow.
Recommendations include that children younger than five years, people who are 65 or older, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems and chronic disease should avoid exposure to pigs and swine barns this summer. Children younger than age 10 have little or no immunity against the H3N3v virus. Symptoms of the virus infection in people include coughing, sneezing, body aches, chills, headache, extreme coldness and fever, fatigue, and sore throat. For more information, the CDC has published a fact sheet called Protect Yourself Against H3N2v.