Well, it's fair season in Northwest Ohio. The Fulton County Fair is coming to a close, and the Williams County Fair is gearing up. Folks are a little apprehensive because of the Swine Flu outbreak associated with the Henry County Fair a few weeks ago. So far, there have been approximately 101 cases in Ohio and 138 in Indiana – more than any other state.
What do you need to know about Swine Flu to protect your family?
How do you get Swine Flu? Swine flu is caused by a virus (called H3N2v) that is spread from pigs to humans and vice-versa. It has not been determined yet whether one person can spread it to another. You have to be in fairly close contact to a pig to get it. That is why the recent exposures in Henry County were associated with fair-goers who visted the swine barn or exhibited swine.
What are the symptoms? People with swine flu have a fever, cough, fatigue, sore throat, headache, muscle aches and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. In most people, it is a mild illness. However, in young children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with a weakened immune system, it can be a more serious illness. There has been one reported death related to this swine flu outbreak in a 61-year-old with other chronic health problems (in Madison County, Ohio).
Is there a treatment? Swine flu usually lasts about a week. If you see your doctor within the first two days of symptoms, you might benefit from a medication that will make the illness a little shorter and less severe. Not everyone needs treatment, though – you should check with your doctor as soon as you suspect that you may have it.
How do I prevent it? The easy answer is to stay away from pigs! People at high risk (age younger than 5 or older than 65, pregnant women, and people with asthma, diabetes, heart disease or a weakened immune system) should follow this advice. If you need to be around pigs, then wash your hands frequently with soap and water (especially before eating) and do not eat or drink around the swine barn.
The bottom line: There is no reason to panic, but we all need to take precautions. Be aware of the symptoms and see your doctor if they appear.
For more information on H3N2v, read more from the Centers for Disease Control.
If you have other questions or concerns, add a comment here and I will get back to you.