Flu strain contracted at Somerset County Fair
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Three young people participating in the Somerset County Fair last week have apparently contracted a new strain of flu known as H3N2v, the state Department of Health said today.
Two of the cases were confirmed and one is considered probable; no patients were reported hospitalized. Though this strain is typically associated with pigs, health officials emphasized that handling or eating pork products don't put them at risk of being exposed to the flu.
The county fair was held Aug. 18-25. Earlier cases of illness caused by the virus were associated with the Huntingdon County Fair in Eastern Pennsylvania. The health department investigation into the illnesses is continuing, although there is no evidence so far that the new flu strain is spreading from person-to-person in the state.
Nationwide, a total of 288 cases have been confirmed. There have been eight confirmed, 26 probable cases to date in Pennsylvania. About 90 percent of the cases have been in children under 18 years old. Symptoms are like other flus and include fever, coughing, fatigue and no appetite.
Although rare, the virus can spread from pigs to people and from people to pigs, according to the state health department. Health officials said this new virus is different from previous H3N2 human cases because it also contains part of the 2009 H1N1 virus. Last year the same virus was found in three people who fell ill after attending the Washington County Fair.
People at agricultural fairs who visit areas with live animals are advised by health officials to wash their hands afterward and avoid carrying food or drink or putting things in their mouth while in these areas.
People at high risk of complications if they contract the flu are advised to avoid areas with live pigs. At high risk are children under 5, people 65 and up, pregnant women and people with certain chronic medical conditions or weakened immune systems.
First Published August 31, 2012 6:38 pm