The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) identified pigs at the Fowlerville Family Fair that tested positive for swine flu. The Fowlerville Fair Board isolated infected pigs to prevent additional exposure.
Infected pigs began showing symptoms in the afternoon of Thursday, July 25, 2019, and laboratory results were confirmed late Friday afternoon. The fair ran July 22-27, 2019. All pigs have been removed from the fairgrounds and there are no reported human illnesses.
The Livingston County Health Department (LCHD), in coordination with the Fowlerville Fair Board and Michigan State University Extension, are reaching out to exhibitors and their families who participated at the Fowlerville Family Fair that may have been in close contact with the infected pigs. The LCHD is also instructing healthcare providers in the area to watch for patients presenting with respiratory symptoms who report exposure to swine or who visited the swine barn. In addition any individuals who attended the fair and were exposed to the pigs who begin to have influenza like symptoms should contact LCHD.
This is not the first time fair-goers were exposed: During the 2018 Fowlerville Fair, two attendees were sickened by influenza A (H2N2)v, following exposure to swine. Respiratory samples from ill individuals were sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for additional testing, after initially testing positive for Influenza A at the MDHHS Laboratory. This H1N2v strain is similar to the viruses currently circulating in swine.
These are among the first influenza A (H1N2)v virus infections identified in the U.S. in 2018. Two additional cases have been identified in California. None of the patients were hospitalized, and all are recovered from their illness.
Swine flu 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. Symptoms usually appear within three days of exposure but can occur up to 10 days.
Sometimes swine flu causes severe disease even in healthy people, such as pneumonia, which may require hospitalization. People who are at high risk of developing complications if they get swine flu 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.
Currently, there is no vaccine for swine flu and the seasonal flu vaccine will not protect against swine flu; however, antiviral drugs, such as Tamiflu and Relenza, are effective in treating swine flu. These antivirals are only available through prescription by a healthcare professional. Early treatment works best and may be especially important for people with a high-risk condition. Individuals exposed to the pigs at the fair who begin to show symptoms should see their healthcare provider and inform them of possible exposure.
Below are some steps you can take 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 and wash your hands.
• 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 is 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.
• Get an annual influenza vaccination.
For questions, contact the LCHD Nurse on Call line at (517) 552-6882 and leave your name and phone number and someone will return your call as soon as possible.
For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/flu/swineflu/keyfacts_pigs.htm.