JACKSON, MI – Ten pigs at the Jackson County Fair have tested positive for swine flu, according to health officials.
Pigs showing symptoms were tested and results were positive, the Jackson County Health Department reported.
The fair started Aug. 4 and runs through Aug. 10.
All pigs have been removed from the fairgrounds and pig barns are closed for the rest of the fair, health officials say. There are no reported human illnesses at this time.
Officials are reaching out to exhibitors and their families with information, and urging health care providers to watch for patients with respiratory symptoms who report exposure to swine or who visited the fair.
“Pigs may be infected with swine influenza viruses that are different from human flu viruses,” the health department stated in a news release. “Swine influenza can spread quickly between pigs and, while rare, can pass to humans through droplets in the air when sick pigs cough or sneeze.”
Human symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of seasonal flu and can include fever, cough, runny nose and sometimes body aches, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, according to the health department.
Symptoms usually appear within three days of exposure but can occur up to 10 days.
People exposed to the pigs at the fair who begin to show symptoms should see their health care provider and inform them of possible exposure, health officials advise.
“Sometimes swine flu causes severe disease even in healthy people, such as pneumonia, which may require hospitalization,” the news release states. “People who are at high risk of developing complications if they get swine flu infection include children younger than five years of age, people 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, and people with certain chronic health disease, such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, weakened immune systems, and neurological conditions.”
There is no vaccine for swine flu and the seasonal flu vaccine will not protect against swine flu, health officials say, though antiviral drugs, such as Tamiflu and Relenza, are effective in treating swine flu infections and are available through prescription.
“Early treatment works best and may be especially important for people with high-risk conditions,” the news release states.
The health department offers the following tips to protect yourself and prevent the spread of any illness:
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Refrain from eating or drinking in livestock barns or show rings.
- Do not take toys, pacifiers, cups, baby bottles, strollers, or similar items into pig areas.
- Anyone who is at high risk of serious flu complications and planning to attend a fair should avoid pigs and swine barns.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- If you are sick, stay home from work or school until your illness is over.
- Avoid contact with pigs if you have flu-like symptoms. Wait seven days after your illness started or until you have been without fever for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications, whichever is longer.
For more information on swine flu, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Those with additional questions can call the Jackson County Health Department’s Communicable Disease Program at 517-768-1664.