Health Officials Warn of Swine Flu Spreading at Fairs
NASHVILLE, Tenn.- A new strain of Swine Flu is surfacing across the United States, and infectious disease experts say it is spreading at fairs. While no cases have been reported locally, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture is putting exhibitors on notice.
The CDC said in one week, the cases of the Swine Flu sharply increased from 29 reported to 158.
The new strain they're seeing is H3N2, different from the H1N1 pandemic a few years ago. Fair exhibitors are being told to only show healthy animals, and state and federal animal health officials will be around to check.
Outbreaks have been reported in Ohio, Indiana and Hawaii. In many instances, people complained of flu like symptoms. While no one is being discouraged from attending a fair, they are reminded to take a few small steps to make sure they don't get sick.
"If you're going to be near the animals, make sure you don't eat or drink near the animals. After leaving an animal area always wash your hands. And it might just be a good idea not to let the kids touch the animals," said Heather Orne TN Department of Agriculture.
Monitoring the animals is ultimately the responsibility of fair officials. At the Kentucky State Fair, veterinarians are inspecting the pigs to see if they show any indication of being ill. If there's concern, the pigs are tested, and if there's an outbreak, the public will be notified.