Pontiac, Michigan -- Are you planning to take your family to visit a local fair, petting farm or zoo? If so, Oakland County Health Division (OCHD) would like to remind you to take precautions to keep your family healthy. Children of all ages love the experience of coming face-to-face with animals, but it is important to remember that animals sometimes carry germs that are harmful to humans.
A Washtenaw County child was identified as the first Michigan case of Influenza A variant virus (H3N2v) infection. The child spent 10 hours in the pig barn at the Ingham County Fair on Aug. 1. Fortunately the child had a mild illness, did not need hospitalization, and is recovering.
"While this particular variant of Influenza A (H3N2v) is new in Michigan, there already have been 154 cases nationwide this year," said Dr. Pamela Hackert, OCHD Chief of Medical Services. "Residents are reminded to wash their hands frequently when visiting an animal exhibit. It is the simplest, most effective way to stay healthy. In addition, remind children not to put their fingers or hands in their eyes, nose or mouth."
While influenza is never spread by eating pork products, care should be taken to reduce the spread of influenza viruses between pigs and people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends you:
- Wash your hands often with soap and running water before and after exposure to pigs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Always cover coughs and sneezes.
- Never eat, drink or put things in your mouth in swine areas, and don't take food or drink into pig areas.
- Never take toys, pacifiers, spill-proof cups, baby bottles, strollers or similar items into pig areas.
- Avoid pigs that look or act ill.
- Avoid contact with pigs if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms to avoid introducing a human flu virus that can combine with swine influenza. Avoid contact for seven days after your symptoms begin or until you have been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications, whichever is longer.
- Watch your pigs for signs of illness and call a veterinarian if you suspect the pigs might be sick.
- Children younger than five years, people 65 years and older, pregnant women, and people with certain chronic medical conditions are at high risk from serious complications if they get influenza. These people should consider avoiding exposure to pigs and swine barns this fair season, especially if sick pigs have been identified.
- If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, or if you must be in the vicinity of sick pigs, take protective measures including wearing protective clothing, gloves, masks that cover your mouth and nose, and other personal protective equipment.
FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES ONLY: Contact Dr. Pamela Hackert, Chief of Medical Services at the Oakland County Health Division at 248-858-1276.