Study Finds 18 People Infected With Swine Flu After Fairs Last Summer

(Source: Alvesgaspar, via Wikimedia Commons)
(Source: Alvesgaspar, via Wikimedia Commons)

As county fair season winds down, a new study says that last summer, 18 people caught swine flu after exposure to infected exhibition pigs at fairs in Michigan and Ohio.

The study says interactions with exhibition pigs are the most common way humans contract swine flu. The people most affected were exhibitioners and their families.

Dr. Andrew Bowman is an Ohio State professor who led the research. He says because exhibition pigs travel frequently from one fair to another, the virus can easily spread throughout a region. And Bowman says, when one pig at a fair has the virus, it quickly spreads to the rest of the pigs, usually infecting more than two-thirds of a group.

"Much like kids in preschool, one comes in positive with something, within a week, everybody’s got it," Bowman said. "And so we just need to use a little bit of thought before we go rushing into a barn."  

Bowman says any time people contract influenza from animals, it has the potential to become the next flu pandemic. The particular strain of flu researchers found is the H3N2 virus.

Last month at the Clinton County Fair, a hog tested positive for H3N2. As a result state officials ordered that nearly 300 hogs at the fair be slaughtered.

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