Going to the fair? Prevent the spread of flu

Friday, 8/31/12 - 12:59 pm

Fairs are fun places to celebrate Oregon’s farming culture. When you head to the fair, it’s important to protect you and your family from influenza (flu) associated with pigs in public settings.

This fair season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is monitoring an H3N2v flu virus that has been found in both people and pigs in a number of states. Most of the recent infections have happened after prolonged contact with pigs.

The spread of influenza happens when droplets containing influenza land in your nose or mouth, or when the droplets are inhaled. H3N2v flu is spread through droplets in the air after an infected pig coughs or sneezes. It may also be spread:

  • By touching something that has the virus on it and then touching your own mouth or nose.
  • By inhaling dust containing the influenza virus.

In addition to spreading from pigs to people, in a few cases, the H3N2v has spread from person-to-person. So far spread has not continued beyond one or two people.

Simple ways to protect yourself and your family from H3N2v flu:

  • Don’t take food or drink into pig areas
  • Don’t eat, drink or put anything in your mouth in pig areas.
  • Don’t take toys, pacifiers, cups, baby bottles, strollers, or similar items into pig areas.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and running water before and after coming into contact with pigs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid contact with pigs that are coughing, sneezing, or that seem sick.
  • Minimize contact with pigs and swine barns.

If you are an exhibitor and you must come in contact with pigs that are known or you think may be sick:

  • Minimize contact with pigs
  • Wear protective clothing, gloves and a mask that covers your mouth and nose
  • Watch your pig (if you have one) for signs of illness and call a veterinarian if you think it might be sick.

Flu symptoms can include fever, cough, runny nose, and body aches. Flu can also include nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. If you have any of these symptoms after coming in contact with pigs, contact your doctor. 

This year’s seasonal flu shot does not include protection from H3N2v.  However, your doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs that can treat the virus. These drugs work better the sooner they are started. If you are prescribed antiviral drugs by your doctor, you should finish all of the medication, according to your doctor’s instructions.

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