Five human cases of influenza A associated with pigs have been confirmed in Indiana.
They include one case involving a Jackson County resident, the State Board of Health reports.
Although precautions are urged, the larger concern appears to have passed locally, Dr. Kenneth Bobb, the county’s public health officer, said Thursday.
“We’re not seeing any new cases, and the fair is over,” Bobb said.
A common thread among those sick in Jackson County is that they had exhibited swine at the county fair or had visited the swine area, Bobb said. Cases started showing up July 26 and July 27 as the fair neared its end Saturday night.
Several patients were treated by an area doctor and the emergency room at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour, triggering submission of patient swabs for testing with the state health department, Bobb said.
He earlier warned the hospital and doctors to be aware of a possibility for the flu because of similar reports involving the LaPorte County Fair in northern Indiana.
While the flu appears to be spread from people to swine and from swine to people, Bobb said, it does not appear to be spreading between people.
“That’s one of the good things about it,” Bobb said. “It doesn’t seem highly contagious from human to human.”
The flu is related to the human flu viruses seen in the 1990s, Bobb said, so adults may have some immunity. But younger children do not.
Efforts are under way to develop a vaccine, the health department said, but no decision has been made on whether to mass produce it.
Although only one local case of influenza A has been confirmed by the state, others have been sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more testing, Bobb said.
“They were inconclusive,” he said of state tests.
Ken Severson of the Indiana Department of Health said the Jackson County case was confirmed Wednesday. As of 3 p.m. Thursday, the number of cases statewide remained at five.
Bobb said he spoke with a veterinarian familiar with the swine barn at the fair and was told there had been no reports of ill pigs.
And Dr. Ron Harrison, a large-animal veterinarian in Brownstown, said Thursday he’s spoken with several local swine breeders and producers this week. None had reported problems with the flu among their pigs, he said.
“I’ve heard of … nothing consistent with swine flu,” Harrison said Thursday.
That’s the case for hog farms working in cooperation with Jackson-Jennings Co-op.
“Everything right now is normal,” Dan Vague said Thursday. He is the co-operative’s feed plant manager in Brownstown.
Hoosiers should not be worried about eating pork, Harrison and Bobb said.
Although flu is not an uncommon diagnosis among hogs, the state Board of Animal Health suggests swine owners contact a veterinarian if their animals show signs consistent with flu, including coughing, respiratory illness, off-feed and fever.
The state health department said flu symptoms usually include fever and respiratory symptoms, such as cough, sore throat and runny nose, and possibly other symptoms, such as body aches, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Symptoms usually last about two to five days.
Most local patients have complained of respiratory problems and scratchy throats, Bobb said.
He said prevention comes down to the basics — thoroughly wash your hands often, cover your coughs and sneezes in your arm or elbow and, if you are sick, stay home.
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