Updated: Wednesday, 08 Aug 2012, 2:55 PM EDT
Published : Wednesday, 08 Aug 2012, 2:51 PM EDT
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - The number of human influenza cases tied to swine has jumped to 113 people statewide, State Department of Health officials said Wednesday.
It’s a jump of 99 people from Tuesday, when only 14 cases were reported statewide.
The flu is a new strain that popped up in Indiana in July. It’s called variant influenza A, or H3N2v. Health officials said they are unsure if it’s possible for it to be spread from person to person, but they’re investigating it. Officials said it’s been passed from swine to human, and from human to swine.
Most symptoms are what health officials are calling mild, mimicking what is normally seen in seasonal flu. Cases have been found in the following 18 Indiana counties: Bartholomew, Greene, Hamilton, Hendricks, Jackson, Jennings, Johnson, Kosciusko, LaPorte, Lawrence, Monroe, Morgan, Owen, Porter, Scott, Tipton, Washington, and White.
Indiana State Fair officials forced roughly 2,000 pigs out of the barn at the fair earlier this week after six pigs developed fevers higher than 105 degrees. However, no cases of H3N2v have been reported in Marion County.
The department of health suggests the following practices to stop the spread of the illness:
Wash hands frequently, including before and after touching animals.
Never eat, drink, or put anything in your mouth when visiting animal areas.
Older adults, pregnant women, young children, and people with weakened immune systems should be extra careful around animals.
Cough or sneeze into your sleeve or elbow.
If possible, avoid contact with those who are ill.
Stay home if you develop influenza symptoms and contact your health care provider.
Eating pork products doesn't put anyone at risks of getting the virus, health officials said.
That's the message state and county fair visitors got Thursday from health officials who reported a five-fold increase of cases of a new strain of swine flu that spreads from pigs to people. Most of the cases are linked to the fairs, where visitors are in close contact with infected pigs.
This flu has mild symptoms and it's not really spreading from person to person.
"This is not a pandemic situation," said Dr. Joseph Bresee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But any flu can be a risk for some people, and people should be cautious when they can, he added.
The case count jumped from 29 a week ago to 158 this week, thanks to a wave of new cases in Indiana and Ohio, said Bresee, the agency's chief of influenza epidemiology.
Most of the infected patients are children — probably because many were working closely with raising, displaying and visiting pigs at the agricultural fairs, Bresee said.
The recent cases include at least 113 in Indiana, 30 in Ohio, one in Hawaii and one in Illinois, Bresee said in a conference call with reporters.
The count is changing rapidly. Indiana health officials on Thursday afternoon said they had seven more confirmed cases than Bresee noted. That would raise the grand total to 165 so far.
Also, diagnosis of cases has become quicker in the last week. CDC no longer must confirm a case with its own lab. Now states are using CDC test kits to confirm cases on their own on, speeding the process along. The newly reported cases were likely infected a week or two ago.
The CDC has been tracking cases since last summer. A concern: The new strain has a gene from the 2009 pandemic strain that might let it spread more easily than pig viruses normally do.
The good news is the flu does not seem to be unusually dangerous. Almost all of the illnesses have been mild and no one has died. Two of the recent cases were hospitalized, but both recovered and were discharged, Bresee said.
More good news is that all of the recent cases appear to have spread from pigs to humans, meaning it's not very contagious, at least between people. But there probably will be more cases in the weeks ahead, and it won't be surprising if at least a few of them involve person-to-person transmission, Bresee said.
Pigs spread flu virus just like people do, with coughing, sneezing and runny noses, so people can get it by touching pigs or being near them.
Health officials don't think it's necessary to cancel swine shows, but are urging people to take precautions.
Fairgoers should wash their hands and avoid taking food and drinks into livestock barns, officials said, while pregnant women, young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems should be particularly careful.
Influenza is going around ALL over, and this is just another strain. Very odd to hear the reports of people in the hospital from pneumonia, etc at this time of year.
Hubby got a classic case of influenza about 4 days ago... we knocked it down pretty good with the usual (elderberry, curcumin for the *severe* muscle and joint aches, Tom McDowell's Synergy 7 tincture) and he only spent one day in bed. He's now in the "post flu exhaustion" phase., and not happy about it.
But a salesman came by on Monday, and noticed my "frog voice" (I've got a cold, which is very unusual for me, too, but I don't have 'flu). He's the one who told me it's pretty well nationwide- they had a conference call for his company (trying to figure out how they're going to survive farmers selling off their herds, and not having any money!) and EVERYone was reporting a lot of flu-like illness. His own father and sister in law are in the hospital with pneumonia, after trying to fight off the flu on their own at home for over a week.
I sent a couple pints of elderberry syrup home with my daughter and grandsons, and they agreed it's a good time to start taking preventative doses. I've got two gallons of elderberry syrup to bottle up today... I didn't think we were going to need the stuff for another few months.
They're talking about it here in Minnesota too. Our State Fair starts up next week, and it's gonna see about 1.7 million people through the gates (second only to Texas State Fair in size). If there's anything floating around the barns, it's sure going to spread like crazy through the human population. Word is though, that it's a fairly mild variant of swine flu in humans.
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