Swine flu confirmed in pigs at Fowlerville Fair

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The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) identified pigs at the Fowlerville Family Fair that tested positive for swine flu (influenza A). The Fowlerville Fair Board has taken steps to isolate infected pigs to prevent additional exposure. Infected pigs began showing symptoms in the evening of Thursday, July 26, and laboratory results were confirmed late Friday afternoon. The fair is scheduled from July 23-July 28. At this time, there are no reported human illnesses.

The Livingston County Health Department (LCHD), in coordination with the Fowlerville Fair Board, are reaching out to swine exhibitors, their families, and those attendees who visited the swine barn at the Fowlerville Family Fair to notify them of possible exposure to 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 fair.

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, and sometimes death. People who are at high risk of developing complications if they get swine flu include children younger than 5 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. Early treatment works best and may be especially important for people with a high-risk condition.

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.

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.

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The Livingston Post is the only locally owned, all-digital information and opinion site in Livingston County, Mich. It was launched by award-winning journalists who were laid off from the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus by Gannett Co. Inc. in 2009.