(XENIA, OH) The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) along with local health departments has identified several human cases of Influenza A variant H3N2 in Ohio. There are currently 30 cases of H3N2v statewide; all individuals had direct contact with swine at fairs and no human-to-human passage of the virus has been confirmed. There are four (4) confirmed cases of H3N2v in Greene County affecting the age group of infants to preteens. To date, none of the confirmed cases have been hospitalized.
What is the Origin of The Flu Virus?
Type A influenza viruses, including H3N2 and the variants, commonly infect swine, causing outbreaks among swine herds. Most of the type A influenza viruses that infect swine are genetically very different from human (seasonal) influenza viruses. While these variant influenza viruses seldom infect humans, such infections can and do occur. In fact, influenza viruses can spread both from swine to humans and from humans to swine.
How Are Variant Influenza Viruses Spread?
When a human is infected with a flu virus that normally circulates in swine, this virus is called a “variant virus” because it is different from seasonal influenza viruses. These infections have been most likely to occur when people are in direct contact with infected swine, such as in swine barns and livestock exhibits housing swine at fairs. This kind of transmission is thought to occur in the same way that seasonal flu transmits in people, which is mainly through coughing or sneezing by people who are infected. People also may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose. It’s important to note that in most cases, variant flu viruses have not shown the ability to spread easily and sustainably from person-to-person.
Although there is no reason to avoid state or county fair activities, you are encouraged to take precaution especially in the animal exhibit areas.
Take Action to Prevent the Spread of Flu Viruses
If you must come in contact with swine while you are sick, or if you must come in contact with swine known or suspected to be infected, or their environment, you should use appropriate protective measures (for example, wear protective clothing, gloves, masks that cover your mouth and nose, and other personal protective equipment) and practice good respiratory and hand hygiene.
Is It Safe To Eat Pork?
Yes. H3N2 variant has not been shown to be transmissible to people through eating pork or other products derived from swine.
What Symptoms Do People Have When They are Infected With Variant Viruses?
People who have been infected with variant viruses have had symptoms similar to the symptoms of regular human seasonal influenza. These include fever, tiredness, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people also have reported runny nose, sore throat, eye irritation, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
If You Get Sick
For further information, please contact the Greene County Combined Health District at 937-374-5600.