Oakland County Health Division, under the leadership of County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, urges individuals to take simple precautions to prevent the spread of germs from animals to humans when visiting local fairs, petting farms or zoos. An influenza A (H3N2) variant virus which usually spreads among pigs, can spread from pigs to people. It is circulating in several states.
“No cases have occurred in Michigan this year but residents are still encouraged to wash hands frequently, especially when visiting an animal exhibit. It is the simplest, most effective way to stay healthy,” said Kathy Forzley, Health Division manager and health officer. “There have been a few cases so far this year in Indiana, Iowa, and West Virginia. Many of these infections were associated with prolonged contact with pigs at fairs.”
Symptoms of H3N2v are consistent with those of seasonal flu and include fever, fatigue, lack of appetite and coughing. There are ways to reduce the spread of influenza viruses between pigs and people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends you:
- Wash your hands with soap and running water before and after exposure to pigs, and after leaving a pig exhibit. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Keep hands away from eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Never eat, drink, or put things in your mouth in pig areas.
- Never take food, drinks, toys, pacifiers, spill-proof cups, baby bottles, strollers, or similar items into pig areas.
- Avoid close contact with pigs that look or act ill.
- Avoid contact with pigs if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms. Avoid contact for seven days after symptoms begin or until you have been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications, whichever is longer.
- Watch pigs for signs of illness and call a veterinarian if you suspect they might be sick.
- 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, especially if sick pigs have been identified.
- Take appropriate protective measures if you must come in contact with pigs, if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, or if you must be in the vicinity of pigs known or suspected to be infected with influenza viruses. Protective measures include wearing protective clothing, gloves, masks that cover your mouth and nose, and other personal protective equipment. Always cover coughs and sneezes, and wash your hands often.
For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/Features/AnimalExhibits. For public health information, contact the Nurse on Call at 800-848-5533 or follow the Health Division on Facebook and Twitter: @publichealthOC