Three children contract H1N1 virus at Washington County Fair
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Three children who attended the Washington County Agricultural Fair last month have contracted a new strain of influenza that contains H1N1.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health reports that one of the children has fully recovered, and the other two are expected to be fine.
"As far as how it was contracted, we don't know that yet," said health department spokeswoman Christine Cronkright. "The link to the fair is, obviously, the common denominator at this point."
This influenza A strain is unique because it includes both H3N2 and a genetic component of H1N1, the swine flu that resulted in a pandemic in 2009, according to Ms. Cronkright.
Health officials do not believe this strain of influenza is transmitted between humans, Ms. Cronkright said.
"We're trying to figure out how all these cases are inter-related," she said. "That's the big focus of this investigation."
According to the state Health Department, all three children attended the Washington County fair between Aug. 13 and 20.
The first patient became sick on Aug. 20. By Aug. 23, the child was believed to have some strain of the flu. The symptoms include fever, non-productive cough and lethargy.
The other two children became ill over Labor Day weekend.
At least two of the children were hospitalized, Ms. Cronkright said. She could not release their ages because of confidentiality laws.
In late July, a person in Indiana became ill with similar symptoms, along with diarrhea, shortness of breath and a sore throat. A novel strain of flu was suspected in mid-August. That case is not correlated to any of those in Pennsylvania, Ms. Cronkright said.
The Health Department is still trying to figure out what could have sickened the children in Pennsylvania.
H3N2 can be transmitted between humans and from animal to human, Ms. Cronkright said.
"We're still in the beginnings of this," she said. "But the investigation is moving pretty quickly."
The president of the Washington County Agricultural Fair was out of town Monday and could not be reached for comment.
The current flu vaccine includes combinations of both H3N2 and H1N1, but not this particular version.
But, Ms. Cronkright continued, if there is no human-to-human transmission, a vaccination may not be necessary.
"We're hopeful there isn't, so there won't be that huge threat," she said.
Anyone who attended the Washington County Agricultural Fair and has flu-like symptoms should contact their medical provider or call 1-877-PA-HEALTH.
First Published September 6, 2011 12:00 am