As county fair season is in full swing in the U.S., it is important to remember that such events do bring with them a potential but lurking danger.
Recently, officials with Delaware Division of Public Health, DPH, disclosed that its lab had confirmed “swine flu” in a teenager who apparently contracted the virus from what they called “close contact” with pigs at a county fair. The agency released no further information about the young woman other than that her flu was “mild”, citing privacy concerns.
This case marks Delaware’s first laboratory-confirmed case of a variant influenza virus.
The county fair the patient attended was in Maryland; officials are cautioning anyone who attended a county fair in that state and has developed flu symptoms to see a doctor.
Maryland officials have known for weeks that this particular variant, H3N2v, exists in some of that state’s pigs and say they are looking into multiple suspected cases of flu in people.
In fact, say health experts, most cases of “swine flu” are spread to people from pigs. It’s possible doctors say, for people to spread the infection but those cases are rare. Most “swine flu” in people occur in kids who show pigs at events and in farm workers who work with pigs.
And while most cases are mild, that isn’t always the case. People who are at risk for serious flu complications should not even go into barns where pigs are housed. And of course, everyone–no matter how healthy–should practice good hygiene by thoroughly washing their hands (or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer) after being around swine.