From the Harford County Health Department:
Although the Harford County Farm Fair concluded at the end of last month without incident, last week’s identification by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) of the influenza A (H3N2v) virus strain in six Queen Anne’s County residents (five children and one adult, all of whom had direct contact with pigs), prompts precautions from the Harford County Health Department.
With the opening of the MD State Fair this Friday, August 24th through the Labor Day holiday on September 3rd , many who live and/or work in Harford County are expected to participate in the festivities in Timonium. Health Officer Susan Kelly encourages folks to attend and enjoy themselves, but wishes to remind the public of DHMH recommendations regarding possible contamination and prevention of influenza.
• Persons engaging in activities that may involve swine contact, such as attending agricultural events or exhibiting swine, should wash their hands frequently with soap and running water before and after exposure to animals;
• Avoid eating or drinking in animal areas to prevent passing germs from the hands to the mouth and nose;
• Persons who experience influenza-like symptoms following direct or close contact with pigs and who seek medical care should inform their health care provider about the exposure;
• Persons who are at high risk for influenza complications (e.g., underlying chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, or neurological conditions, or who are pregnant or younger than 5 years, older than 65 years of age or have weakened immune systems) should consider avoiding any exposure to pigs;
• Anyone with influenza-like illness who is at high risk for influenza complications should see their health care provider promptly to determine if treatment with antiviral medications is warranted.
Human cases of this influenza strain have been identified in eight other states, including West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The virus was first detected in humans in 2011. Since July 2012, CDC has reported 224 cases of. Nationally, all cases had classic influenza symptoms. There have been eight hospitalizations and no deaths or instances of sustained human-to-human transmission. Most cases have occurred in children, and almost all cases have involved contact with swine. With specific regard to the Queen Anne’s cases, none of the infected individuals developed serious illness or was hospitalized. In some rare cases, the H3N2v virus seems to have spread from person-to-person but, so far, spread has not continued beyond one or two people.
Influenza is an infection caused by the influenza virus. It can affect people and other animals, including pigs and birds. There are vaccines against some strains and there also is medication that can be used to treat an influenza infection. Most people recover from illness without receiving medication; however, those at higher risk for complications of influenza should exercise extra caution.
For more information on the H3N2v virus or influenza, generally, visit Harford County Health Department website at www.harfordcountyhealth.com, contact the Health Department at 410-612-1781, visit the Maryland Department of Health & Mental Hygiene at www.dhmh.maryland.gov/SitePages/Home.aspx or the National Centers for Disease Control website at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/swineflu/.