As the summer county and state fair season turns into the fall season, one thing has been on all livestock exhibitors, public health and ag officials and patrons minds: Swine Flu.
Ohioans began to hear about Swine Flu in early August when some patrons of the Butler County Fair were diagnosed with the virus, H3N2v. Some swine being exhibited at the fair were found to be sick with the virus and media and state agency reports at the time indicated most of the human victims were children who had come into contact with infected swine. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Ohio Department of Health both report that kids are especially susceptible to Swine Flu because they haven’t had time to develop antibodies against the virus.
So far in Ohio there have been 72 cases of the flu in humans with most of them directly attributed to contact with pigs or hogs. There have been less than 10 hospitalizations, with all of those patients treated and released. There have been no deaths from this summer flu outbreak.
Public health officials at the state and federal level are continuing to monitor the situation closely, however. For now, there is no evidence that the virus is transmittable from human to human contact. The virus would need to mutate in one of its human victims in just the right way to spread from human to human and if it did, it would become a bigger problem for public health.
There are still several county fairs to occur around Ohio and the Ohio Dept. of Agricuture is teaming up with ODH to strengthen health precautions at swine exhibits around the state. At every county fair there will be daily health checks of pigs and hogs by a veterinarian. Several animals have already been removed from fairs, including two removed from the recent Ohio State Fair. ODA and ODH officials or their local designees will also be meeting face to face to with all swine exhibitors to discuss the virus, what to look for in their animals and the precautions that they and fair goers should take around livestock barns.