There is a new strain of swine influenza virus known as H3N2v that is making people sick if they are exposed to infected pigs, such as at county fairs.
H3N2v is transmitted from pigs to humans and can occasionally cause influenza. People can get the virus through the air when a sick pig coughs or sneezes, or by touching their eyes, nose or mouth after touching an infected pig or a surface contaminated with the virus. A number of cases have been reported in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana. People most at risk are those who work with pigs or who have visited livestock exhibits at fairs. Currently, there has been limited human-to-human transmission of H3N2v — mainly with individuals living in the same house. You can’t contract the virus by eating pork products.
Symptoms caused by influenza can include fever, cough, sore throat, congestion, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, aches and pains and can last anywhere from three to 10 days.
This year’s influenza vaccine does not provide protection against H3N2v; however, because thousands to tens of thousands of people will die and about 200,000 will be hospitalized from seasonal influenza, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all children, adolescents and adults receive the annual influenza vaccine.
H3N2v and seasonal influenza cannot be distinguished by the symptoms, and people who are at high risk of complications from seasonal influenza are also at increased risk of experiencing complications from H3N2v. These groups include children younger than 5, adults older than 65, pregnant women, and people with chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, weakened immune systems, and neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions.
Here is how you can protect yourself and your family against H3N2v:
Reviewed by: Patrick S. Pasquariello Jr., MD and Charlotte Moser BS
Date: September 2012