Two children infected with swine flu after Clark County Fair

By the numbers:

2 — H2N3v swine flu cases reported in Clark County, the first cases reported nationwide in 2016

2 — Unrelated H2N3v cases reported in Michigan

3 — Cases of H2N3v reported in all of 2015

Two children were infected with a variant of the swine flu virus after attending the Clark County Fair last month, the first cases of that strain reported in the U.S. this year.

The children were frequent fair visitors who had direct contact with pigs there, Clark County Health Commissioner Charles Patterson said. Neither child required hospitalization and both have recovered.

Person-to-person spread of the virus is rare, he said, and it hasn’t spread to anyone else at this point.

“We’re really happy to see so far that it went to humans and stopped,” Patterson said.

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He doesn’t anticipate any other cases connected to the Clark County Fair, he said, because it’s been more than 10 days since it ended.

But the Clark County Combined Health District wants to warn other fairgoers about the potential for catching the virus. That includes anyone who attended the Ohio State Fair, Patterson said, and might still be in the window for becoming ill.

Swine flu is a respiratory illnesses that originates with pigs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Humans are most likely to contract it through exposure to an infected pig.

Symptoms are similar to that of a typical flu, according to the CDC, and children and the elderly have the highest chance of contracting the virus.

Two other unrelated swine flu cases have since been reported in Michigan. Three cases were reported in 2015.

Anyone with questions about the swine flu should call the Ohio Department of Health at 614-644-8562.

>>MORE COVERAGE: Clark officials encourage shot after state sees spike in flu

For attendees of any future fairs, visitors who come into contact with pigs should wash their hands frequently, avoid bringing food or drinks into the barns, and not touch their eyes, mouth or nose when in the barns, said Kitty Smith, nursing supervisor for communicable diseases at the health district.

The health district originally worried the virus would spread from human to human, Patterson said, potentially causing an outbreak like the H1N1 virus, another strain of swine flu, did in 2009.

The H1N1 virus spread so quickly because it combined with a human strain of the flu, he said, causing transmission from person to person.

He worried that might happen in this case, he said, but so far there’s no evidence the H3N2v virus has combined with any human strain of the flu.

The Clark County Fair is always taking precautions to prevent anyone getting sick, Executive Director Dean Blair said.

“We have signs that encourage you not to take strollers or pacifiers and things like that into the barns,” he said. “We also have hand sanitizer at all the barns. We encourage people to use that.”

He hopes this incident is a reminder to everyone on the importance of hand washing after handling animals of any kind.

“You need to wash them good for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, especially before eating or touching your face and mouth,” Blair said.

The Champaign County Fair wrapped up on Friday, but leaders said they’re not concerned about swine flu infections there.

“We really didn’t have any issues at this fair with sick pigs,” said Kenny Lensman, Champaign County Fair swine chairman. “We’re pretty comfortable here with our health program.”

Staff Writer Cameron Hunter also contributed to this report.

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