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8 flu cases in Michigan linked to pig exposure

Jim Lynch
The Detroit News

Eight human cases of a variant influenza virus have been reported in Michigan so far this year — all linked to exposure to pigs.

Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services reported the cases Friday — involving influenza A H3N2 — saying each instance involved people exposed to swine at county fairs. The reports came from Ingham, Cass and Muskegon counties.

“MDHHS and (the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development) are working closely with local health departments, the healthcare community and fairs to protect swine exhibitors and the public and identify any additional cases,” health officials stated in a press release.

In 2012, Michigan recorded six H3N2 cases. The following year, that number was two cases.

Influenza A H3N2 manifests in humans via symptoms similar to seasonal flu. Those include fever, respiratory issues, coughs and body aches. In vulnerable populations — young children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems — those symptoms can lead to greater complications.

Regular flu vaccines do not prevent the spread of H3N2.

Infection is thought to occur when pigs cough or sneeze and infected droplets are inhaled by humans. Symptoms typically begin to show within two to 10 days.

State health officials recommend the following steps for protecting against contracting H3N2:

■Vulnerable populations should avoid swine displays at local fairs.

■Eating or drinking in livestock areas should be avoided.

■Toys, pacifiers, cups, baby bottles, strollers or other items associated with children should not be taken into swine areas at fairs.

JLynch@detroitnews.com

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