Michigan county fair attendees test positive for rare strain of swine flu

Health officials announced Friday that two children were sickened by a rare strain of influenza after coming into contact with pigs at a county fair in Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said that influenza A (H1N2) has been identified as the strain that the children contracted from last month’s Fowlerville Family Fair, which took place July 23 to 28.

Several of the pigs exhibited at the fair tested positive for influenza on July 27 and the Center for Disease Control confirmed the virus found in the children is similar to that circulating amongst the swine.

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The kids were not hospitalized and are currently recovering from the illness.

These are among the first H1N2 infections identified in the U.S. this year. Two other cases have been confirmed in California. Officials say they are still investigating anyone else who became ill after attending the fair.

Only 17 cases of this strain have been submitted to the CDC since 2005.

Symptoms of swine flu are similar to a seasonal flu and can include fever, cough, runny nose, and sometimes body aches, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, according to the DHHS. On rare occasions, the illness can be deadly, especially for those at a higher risk, including children under five, people 65 years of age and older, pregnant women and people with certain chronic health issues, such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, weakened immune systems and neurological conditions.

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To protect yourself and others from contracting H1N2, DHHS recommends taking the following precautions:

  • Refrain from eating or drinking in livestock barns or show rings.
  • Do not take toys, pacifiers, cups, baby bottles, strollers or similar items into pig areas.
  • Anyone who is at high risk of serious flu complications and is planning to attend a fair should avoid pigs and swine barns.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Avoid contact with pigs if you have flu-like symptoms.
  • If you are sick, stay home from work or school until your illness is over.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it and wash your hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.