INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana State Department of Health is urging people to take precautions after they say a person contracted the flu after being exposed to pigs at a county fair.
The test results Friday confirmed the first human case of H3N2 variant influenza reported in Indiana since 2013 and the first human case of the year in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Health officials say H3N2 is most commonly associated with contact with pigs and the Indiana resident who became ill had been exposed to pigs during a county fair. Influenza viruses can be directly transmitted from pigs to people and from people to pigs and are most likely to occur when people are working closely with infected pigs. They are not transmitted by eating pork or pork products.
The health department says people can protect themselves by taking the following steps:
- Avoid eating, drinking, using tobacco or putting anything else in your mouth while in pig barns and show arenas.
- Avoid taking toys, pacifiers, cups, bottles, strollers or similar items into pig barns and show arenas.
- Wash hands often with soap and running water before and after attending pig exhibits. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Stay home if you are sick with flu-like illness.
- People at high risk for serious complications from the flu should avoid pigs and should not enter swine barns. These populations include children younger than 5, pregnant women, people age 65 and older and people with long-term health conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease, as well as those with weakened immune systems.
Health officials encourage fair exhibitors to watch pigs for signs of illness including:
- loss of appetite
- runny nose
According to the CDC, more than 400 cases of H3N2 have been reported nationwide since 2011 and more than one-third of those cases have been in Indiana.