With the Minnesota State Fair in full swing, we gathered information from the Minnesota Department Health to share reminders with fair-goers about preventing swine flu. Pigs are commonly infected with swine influenza (variant flu) viruses that are usually different from human influenza viruses. While rare, the flu can still spread from pigs to people and vice versa.
What you should know:
• Swine influenza viruses do not normally infect humans. However, sporadic human infections with influenza viruses that normally circulate in swine and not people have occurred. When this happens, these viruses are called “variant viruses.” Variant viruses are very different from human seasonal influenza viruses. Examples include H3N2v and H1N2v.
• Most commonly, human infections with H3N2v and H1N2v occur in people with direct or indirect exposure to infected pigs.
• H3N2v and H1N2v are not transmissible by eating properly handled and prepared pork (pig meat) or other products derived from pigs.
How to prevent it:
• Never eat, drink or put things in your mouth in animal areas. Don’t take food or drink into animal areas. Never take toys, pacifiers, spill-proof cups, baby bottles, strollers or similar items into animal areas. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
• Persons at high risk for influenza complications should avoid swine exposure. Persons at high risk include: children younger than 5 years, people 65 years or older, pregnant women, and people with certain chronic medical conditions (such asthma, diabetes, heart disease, weakened immune systems, and neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions).
• Avoid close contact with pigs that look or act ill.
• Wash your hands frequently with soap and running water before and after exposure to animals. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Always wash hands thoroughly after contact with farm animals, pets, animal feces, and animal environments.