The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Lapeer and Oakland County health departments have identified a presumptive positive human case of influenza A H3 variant (swine flu) in a Lapeer County resident who was an exhibitor at the Oakland County Fair. The fair took place July 7-16 at the Springfield Oaks County Park in Davisburg. A respiratory specimen that tested presumptive positive for swine flu will be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmatory testing.
Oakland County Health Division has been reaching out to swine exhibitors and their families who visited the swine barns at the Oakland County Fair to identify any additional illnesses in those who may have been exposed to influenza from infected pigs. Oakland County Health Division has already alerted providers in their jurisdiction to watch for patients presenting with respiratory symptoms who report exposure to swine or who visited the fair.
“Visitors of the Oakland County Fair should monitor for flu-like symptoms: fever, respiratory symptoms like cough and runny nose, and body aches, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive. “If you believe you may have the flu, contact your health care provider and stay home until you have recovered.”
Below are some steps you can take to protect yourself and prevent the spread of any illness:
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Refrain from eating or drinking in livestock barns or show rings.
- Do not take toys, pacifiers, cups, baby bottles, strollers, or similar items into pig areas.
- Anyone who is at high risk of serious flu complications and planning to attend a fair should avoid pigs and swine barns.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- If you are sick, stay home from work or school until your illness is over.
- Avoid contact with pigs if you have flu-like symptoms. Wait seven days after your illness started or until you have been without fever for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications, whichever is longer.
- Get an annual influenza vaccination.
Pigs may be infected with swine influenza viruses that are different from human flu viruses. Swine flu viruses spread among pigs and – while rare – they can spread from pigs to people too. Spread of swine flu viruses from a pig to a person is thought to happen in the same way that human flu viruses spread; mainly through droplets when infected pigs cough and sneeze.
Symptoms of variant influenza infection in people are similar to those of seasonal flu viruses and can include fever and respiratory symptoms, such as cough and runny nose, and possibly other symptoms, such as body aches, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Infections with influenza viruses (including variant viruses like influenza A H3) can sometimes cause severe disease, even in healthy people.
Severe illness can include complications, such as pneumonia, which may require hospitalization, and sometimes causes death. People who are at high risk of developing complications if they get variant influenza infection include children younger than 5 years of age, people 65 years of age and older, pregnant women and people with certain long-term health conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, weakened immune systems and neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions.
The time period it takes from exposure to illness for variant influenza is similar to that of seasonal influenza, which can be up to 10 days, but is most commonly three days. Currently, there is no human vaccine for swine flu and the seasonal flu vaccine will not protect against swine flu; however, prescription antiviral drugs, such as oseltamivir and zanamivir, are effective in treating swine flu in humans. Early treatment works best and may be especially important for people with a high-risk condition.
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