Health dept. finds swine flu in 7 peo­ple

De­tected at Charles Co. Fair; no pigs will be al­lowed at Calvert fair

The Calvert Recorder - - Front Page - By CHAR­LIE WRIGHT cwright@somd­news.com

The Mary­land De­part­ment of Health de­ter­mined seven peo­ple have con­tracted the in­fluenza virus strain H3N2v (vari­ant flu) af­ter con­tact with swine at the Charles County Fair this past week­end, but none of the

ill­nesses are con­sid­ered se­ri­ous and not one of the vic­tims have been hos­pi­tal­ized, ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease pro­vided by the Charles County De­part­ment of Health.

Health de­part­ment of­fi­cials dis­cov­ered five cases of in­fluenza among swine dis­played at the fair and the De­part­ment of Agriculture or­dered all pigs to be quar­an­tined un­til a week af­ter the last one shows symp­toms of the ill­ness, de­tailed a sep­a­rate press re­lease from the Charles County or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The Mary­land De­part­ment of Health, Mary­land De­part­ment of Agriculture and the health de­part­ments of Charles County and St. Mary’s County in­ves­ti­gated the pres­ence of In­fluenza A, bet­ter known as swine flu, in the an­i­mals.

Swine flu does not typ­i­cally af­fect peo­ple, and his­tor­i­cally there is lim­ited hu­man-to-hu­man trans­mis­sion from this par­tic­u­lar strain of the virus.

Swine ex­hibits at the St. Mary’s County and Calvert County fairs have been can­celed.

“What has been de­cided out of this point out of pre­cau­tion ... the State De­part­ment of Agriculture in con­sul­ta­tion with the State De­part­ment of Health have de­cided it’s best to hold off on ex­hibit­ing pigs in the two re­main­ing county fairs,” said Dr. Lau­rence Pol­sky, Calvert health of­fi­cer.

In Calvert, this not only in­cludes pigs in the ex­hibit barns but also pigs in any en­ter­tain­ment acts such as pig races, Pol­sky added.

Mary­land State Vet­eri­nar­ian Mike Rade­baugh ex­plained Charles County fair staff was not at fault re­gard­ing the out­break and fol­lowed the nec­es­sary pro­ce­dures in the sit­u­a­tion.

“I don’t think they could have done any­thing dif­fer­ently,” he said. “They were at the gates check­ing [the an­i­mals], we were at the gates check­ing them. They called us right away, ac­cord­ing to our pro­to­cols and their pro­to­cols. It hap­pens.”

The swine fa­cil­ity is in the process of be­ing dis­in­fected. Rade­baugh said 42 of the 149 pigs were slaugh­tered and the rest re­ceived med­i­cal treat­ment. All signs point to swine ex­hibits re­turn­ing to the fair in 2018.

“We were able to quickly get a di­ag­no­sis on Mon­day,” Rade­baugh said. “My un­der­stand­ing from the vet­eri­nar­i­ans I talked to is that the an­i­mals are re­spond­ing to care. ... I don’t see any prob­lem as far as be­ing able to open up next year.”

There have been 20 cases of swine flu among hu­mans in the United States this year, 18 of which were the virus strain H3N2v. Ill­nesses re­lated to these in­stances have been mostly mild with symp­toms sim­i­lar to those of sea­sonal flu. In 2012, 13 in­di­vid­u­als devel­oped in­fluenza af­ter di­rect con­tact with sick pigs at the Queen Anne’s County Fair.

Pol­sky ex­plained those most likely to be af­fected would be per­sons in di­rect con­tact with the an­i­mals, not passersby at the fair. This strain can be trans­mit­ted from pigs to hu­mans, but does not trans­mit be­tween hu­mans. Like the sea­sonal flu, it could be more com­plex for young chil­dren and the el­derly, Pol­sky said.

The symp­toms of this par­tic­u­lar flu are sim­i­lar to other forms of the virus and of­ten in­clude fever, cough and sore throat. Any­one with flu-like symp­toms should con­tact their health care providers, as pre­scrip­tion an­tivi­ral drugs can treat the in­fec­tions in hu­mans, and be sure to men­tion any con­tact with pigs in the last week.

The Charles County Health De­part­ment can be reached at 301-609-6900, ext. 6025, the St. Mary’s County Health De­part­ment can be reached at 301-475-4330 and the Calvert County Health De­part­ment can be reached at 410-5355400.

FILE PHOTO BY DAR­WIN WEIGEL

Tyson Hayes, then 1, of St. Leonard gets a closer look at the pigs with his grand­fa­ther, Michael Green, also of St. Leonard, dur­ing the 2015 Calvert County Fair.

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