4 Aug 2012 01:35 PM EST
-by Vania Andre, Staff Writer; Image: Pigs (Image Source: TravelBlog.org)
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued a statement Friday warning people to avoid contact with pigs, in light of a new flu spreading from animals to people.
There are 29 cases of a new strain of swine flu; all of them confirmed in 2011. The majority of the cases involve children.
“Among those 29 cases, 19 cases were associated with fairs where swine were present,” according to the CDC.
Health officials have pinpointed Butler County, Ohio, as a breeding ground for the new strain, as 10 of 12 cases confirmed this week were linked to the Butler County Fair.
“Late summer is typically fair season across the United States, and fairs are a setting that can provide many opportunities for exposures to occur between pigs and people,” the CDC said in a statement. “CDC continues to advise people to take recommended precautions when interacting with pigs or their environments, including frequent hand washing and avoiding contact with pigs that appear ill.”
The CDC recommends the following prevention tips:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and running water before and after exposure to animals.
- Never eat, drink or put things in your mouth while in animal areas and don’t take food or drink into animal areas.
- Young children, pregnant women, people 65 and older and people with weakened immune systems should be extra careful around animals.
- If you have animals—including swine—watch them for signs of illness and call a veterinarian if you suspect they might be sick.
- Avoid close contact with animals that look or act ill, when possible.
- Avoid contact with pigs if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms.
- If you must come in contact with pigs while you are sick, or if you must come in contact with pigs known or suspected to be infected, or their environment, you should use appropriate protective measures (for example, wear protective clothing, gloves, masks that cover your mouth and nose, and other personal protective equipment) and practice good respiratory and hand hygiene.
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza viruses. Pigs, like humans, are susceptible to the virus.
“Occasionally, influenza viruses can spread between people and pigs,” the CDC said. “While this isn’t common, it can happen.”
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