The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the Livingston County Health Department (LCHD) have identified two confirmed cases of influenza A in individuals with exposure to swine at the Fowlerville Family Fair. The fair took place July 23-28, and several pigs from the fair tested positive for swine flu on July 27. Further laboratory testing is underway to determine if the flu viruses found in the swine and the ill persons are the same strain. Additional fair attendees are also reporting influenza-like illness and are being tested.
LCHD, in coordination with the Fowlerville Fair Board, reached out to swine exhibitors, their families and attendees who visited the swine barn at the fair shortly after receiving the test results to notify them of possible exposure to infected pigs. The LCHD also instructed healthcare providers in the area to watch for patients presenting with respiratory symptoms who report exposure to swine or who visited the fair.
“We are urging those who visited the swine barn at the Fowlerville Fair to monitor their health and follow up with their healthcare provider if they start feeling ill,” said Dr. Eden Wells, MDHHS chief medical executive. “It can take up to 10 days for symptoms to appear and some individuals can develop serious complications.”
Symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the seasonal flu and can include fever, cough, runny nose and sometimes body aches, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Sometimes swine flu causes severe disease even in healthy people, such as pneumonia which may require hospitalization, and even death.
Those at higher risk of developing complications if they get swine flu include children younger than five years of age, people 65 years of age and older, pregnant women and people with certain chronic health disease, such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, weakened immune systems and neurological conditions.
Individuals with health questions can call the LCHD Nurse on Call line at 517-552-6882 and leave your name and phone number and someone will return your call as soon as possible. Healthcare providers with questions about testing options for swine flu can find information on the LCHD website or call 517-552-6882.
Currently, there is no vaccine for swine flu and the seasonal flu vaccine will not protect against swine flu; however, antiviral drugs, such as Tamiflu and Relenza, are effective in treating swine flu. Early treatment works best and may be especially important for people with a high-risk condition.
Steps you can take to protect yourself and prevent the spread of any illness:
- Refrain from eating or drinking in livestock barns or show rings.
- Do not take toys, pacifiers, cups, baby bottles, strollers or similar items into pig areas.
- Anyone who is at high risk of serious flu complications and is planning to attend a fair should avoid pigs and swine barns.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Avoid contact with pigs if you have flu-like symptoms.
- If you are sick, stay home from work or school until your illness is over.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it and wash your hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
For more information on swine flu, visit the CDC website.