COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) announced yesterday that 15 additional cases of Influenza A variant H3N2 have been confirmed in Ohio. There are currently 30 cases of H3N2v statewide; all individuals had direct contact with swine at fairs and no human-to-human passage of the virus has been confirmed.
The confirmed case breakdown per county is as follows: Gallia, 4; Butler, 16; Clark, 3; Greene, 4; and Hamilton, 3.
Those with confirmed cases of H3N2v are between the ages of 6 months and 36 years old. To date, one of the confirmed cases was hospitalized as a precaution, but they have since been treated and released.
Seven Gallia County residents have been hospitalized with flu-like symptoms, but only the most recent patient remains hospitalized. The other six have been discharged to their respective homes.
“There has been a tremendous increase in surveillance across the state,” said Dr. Ted Wymyslo, Director of the Ohio Department of Health. “We are not surprised by this increase in confirmed cases. We are also aware the flu viruses are not uncommon in swine. Even as we identify additional illnesses, this strain appears to remain mild and does not seem to be any more severe than what we see during most flu seasons.”
ODH continues to partner with local health departments and health care providers across the state on any reports of human influenza-like illness. Individuals who have reported close contact with swine and are exhibiting flu-like symptoms should reach out to their health care provider. The ODH lab will now be able to do final confirmation testing on H3N2v cases, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has changed protocol.
“Although this strain of influenza does not appear to be severe, we want to make sure that local fair boards and veterinarians have all the support they need to continue monitoring the situation and to ensure that Ohioans can safely attend their county fairs,” said David Daniels, Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA). “We want to keep the people of Ohio healthy, just as we want to keep our animals healthy.”
ODA is actively working with industry partners to assist with public education efforts and to increase the number of hand sanitation stations available at county fairs. ODA is contacting each upcoming fair veterinarian instructing them to post signage for both the exhibitors and for the visiting public, to closely monitor swine health and to take temperatures of any ill swine and notify ODA immediately of the results. ODA will continue to swab and test animals as needed throughout the fair season.
With county fairs running into the first week of October in Ohio, ODA and ODH remind residents and visitors that fair attendance is safe. Those attending the fair should remember:
• Wash hands frequently with soap and running water before and after exposure to animals.
• Never eat, drink or put things in your mouth in animal areas, and don’t take food or drink into animal areas.
• Young children, pregnant women, people 65 and older and people with weakened immune systems should be extra careful around animals.
• If you have animals – including swine – watch them for signs of illness, and call a veterinarian if you suspect they might be sick.
• Avoid close contact with animals that look or act ill, when possible.
• Avoid contact with swine if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms.
ODH will provide notice of any additional H3N2v human case confirmations on its website, http://bit.ly/OhioH3N2vUpdates and will send out a press release if any additional counties identify cases of H3N2v.