Saturday, October 6, 2012

Swine flu outbreak in Midwest prompts reminders about safety precautions at SC State Fair

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Saturday, Oct. 06, 2012
South Carolina health officials are taking advantage of publicity about a new strain of swine flu that sickened hundreds of people in Indiana and Ohio this summer to remind people to take precautions while visiting livestock exhibitions.

Avoid petting pigs in those exhibitions, and wash your hands after touching any livestock or their enclosures.

The S.C. State Fair, which opens Wednesday, includes the largest of the dozens of public livestock shows in the state. The State Fair for years has posted warning signs in livestock enclosures about the danger of disease transmission, and hand-washing stations popped up in the barns a few years ago during the last swine flu scare.

Humans and pigs both have flu viruses, and usually they don’t affect the other species. But every once in a while a variant develops that can jump from pigs to humans or humans to pigs. A H3N2 variant that popped up last year in pigs began moving to humans this year.

Symptoms in people have been mild, and the variant hasn’t jumped easily from person to person. Spread has been limited to people who have had direct contact with infected pigs. About 305 cases have been confirmed in 10 states, none in the Southeast, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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