An H3N2 variant of swine flu virus infected 158 people in Indiana and Ohio according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s last tally of the disease Thursday. It had not been detected by midday Thursday in swine or humans in Arkansas, according to officials with the Arkansas Health Department and the Livestock and Poultry Commission.
Ed Barham, a spokesman for AHD, told The Baxter Bulletin the department is tracking the outbreak closely. He said the three flu strains targeted in the 2012-2013 flu vaccine combination do not include the flu variant that is believed to have spread from swine to humans visiting county fairs.
“Symptoms of this flu are apparently mild by comparison to other infections,” Barham said. “But flu virus is unpredictable and we are watching this very closely.”
The Bulletin found the new vaccine available Thursday at retail and medical clinic locations in Mountain Home. Barham said the state’s supply of vaccine will be distributed through county health units and flu shot clinics on dates to he announced nearer the onset of the flu season in October.
No sick pigs
Dr. Pat Badley, veterinarian with the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission, told The Bulletin that the disease had not been detected in Arkansas swine by commission monitors at livestock sales and exhibits.
An inspector with the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission will be on hand at county fairs to examine animals as they are prepared for exhibit, he said. The most prominent indicator of the disease in swine is an elevated body temperature that ranges upward from an average normal temperature of 102 degrees.
Sick hogs believed to have transmitted the disease to fairgoers in Indiana had body temperatures of 105 and higher, but appeared healthy otherwise, Badley said.
“The virus makes people a lot sicker than it makes hogs,” Badley said. “That temperature for long periods in humans would be devastating, but it’s not in swine.”
“Observers at the county fairs are to call me whenever they see those temperatures or any sign of sickness in fair livestock,” Badley
State, bi-state and regional fairs where large numbers of prized swine are exhibited probably pose a higher risk for transmitting the disease to humans, he said.
Monitoring and protecting against the spread of the variant in small county fairs, like the one coming in a month to Baxter County, can be accomplished by not touching the animals and using hand-washing stations by animal handlers, Badley said. All animal handlers and fairgoers should cover to sneeze or cough. Handlers should avoid eating in the same area where swine are exhibited. Hand contact to eye, nose or mouth between hand washings while handling swine should be avoided, he said.
The CDC said two of the new patients were hospitalized, but most illnesses have been mild and no one has died.
Flu shot now?
CDC recommends that people get vaccinated against flu as soon as flu season vaccine becomes available. Influenza seasons are unpredictable, and can begin as early as October.
It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu. CDC encourages doctors and nurses to begin vaccinating their patients as soon as the flu vaccine is available, even as early as August.
The Chicago Tribune reported Thursday one infection of a child in Coles County, Ill.http://www.baxterbulletin.com/article/2 ... /308110014