New strain of flu causes concern at fairs

A new strain of flu linked to hogs is causing some concern at county fairs.

The illness is called H3N2 and so far 17 cases have been confirmed in the United States.

Of those cases, 11 have occurred in Indiana.

“Swine flu actually is like a common cold for people, some coughing and some hacking” said Beth Ferry, pork educator at MSU Extension Office. “So it’s not actually the flu some people think it is.”

But fear of the flu shouldn’t keep you from coming to fairs like the one Saturday in Cass County, where pigs are part of the fun.

“We haven’t had any issues where one pig gets sick, then the next day six pigs get sick,” said Cass County Fair President Gail Peterson.

Plenty of folks have spent some time with the hogs – and not a single one has gotten sick.

But that doesn’t mean fair-goers shouldn’t take precautions.

“We have hand sanitizing stations we ask people to use when they leave and when they go up and eat,” Peterson said.

Ferry says people should also avoid touching the animals altogether, because the easiest way to spread disease is through nose to nose contact.

If some type of disease were to spread, Cass County does have a plan in place to prevent it from being passed on to humans.

“If something were to come up, we have different quarantine spots we can send the animals, we have a plan for what would happen if the animals get sick,” Ferry said.

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