The US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). The CDC reported nearly 300 human cases of Swine Flu cases over the last year and fear that the number of cases may rise again as school begins. To date 13 human cases have been hospitalized, no one has died. What makes this swine flu virus of special concern is not only that it is zoonotic or transmissible between animals (pigs) and people but also that it shares a genetic relationship to the H1N1 influenza virus that resulted in the 2009 pandemic. A few cases have also spread directly from person to person yet in each case swine exposure was documented. Three other cases of direct person to person transmission were documented in children in Iowa. Each of the children attended the same day care center. None had any association with swine.
Swine Flu has been detected in 13 states with Indiana leading the way, followed by Ohio with the vast majority of all cases affecting children.
Representatives from the CDC report that the start of fair season along with the beginning of school are fueling the recent surge of infections across the country.
In addition as seasons change and fall and winter approach, opportunity for viral transmission and spread increase.
In swine, the disease is mild, however clinical presentation in humans consists of flu-like signs along with lethargy, lack of appetite and fever. Children under age 5, along with the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, pregnant women and those with asthma, diabetes, heart disorders and neurological disease are at highest risk.
No commercial vaccine is available for this variant of influenza which is technically referred to as H3N2v for people or pigs. The current human flu shots are also not effective against this strain.
The CDC agency also has posted a fact sheet with tips on how to help prevent the spread of flu between people and pigs at fairs, including washing your hands, avoiding pigs and practicing sanitary good hygiene.
The CDC and other health agencies will continue to closely monitor this virus because it its potential for mutation is so high and whether or not it may become the next pandemic remains to be seen.