MASON COUNTY — The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Office of Epidemiology and Prevention Services is confirming three human cases of H3N2v in Mason County.
H3N2v is an influenza A virus that contains genes from avian, swine and human viruses that normally circulates in swine, but can infect humans. Diana Riddle with the Mason County Health Department said all three cases reported were in children. These children reportedly attended the Gallia County Fair and, as previously reported, some Gallia County residents who attended their county fair came down with a few documented cases of H3N2v.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (COC) announced last week an increase in reported H3N2v cases in several states including Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, mostly affecting children who had exposure to swine at agriculture fairs.
State Health Officer and Commissioner for Public Health Dr. Marian Swinker said, “The COC has reported that more than 90 of the H3N2v cases to date have occurred in children, all of whom have had exposure to swine, mostly at agricultural fairs or festivals. West Virginia has confirmed three cases of H3N2v in Mason County also linked to attendance at the Gallia County Fair in Ohio where swine were present.”
Symptoms of H3N2v virus infection so far have been similar to seasonal flu. While most cases have been mild, a number of hospitalizations have occurred. No fatalities have been reported.
Dr. Swinker said, “We will not be surprised to identify more cases of H3N2v in West Virginia as surveillance efforts to detect this illness have increased. COC has not reported ongoing community human-to-human transmission with this virus, however, limited human-to-human transmission with H3N2v has been seen in the past and could occur again. All the cases of H3N2v infection identified since July 2012 confirmed by COC have had exposure to swine. So preventive actions are key.”
Dr. Swinker said all persons should take precautions, including frequent handwashing, especially in settings where swine may be present, and not eating food or drink in the areas where swine are kept. Additionally, people who are at high risk of serious flu complications should consider avoiding exposure to pigs and swine barns this fair season according to COC. This includes, children younger than five years, people 65 years and older, pregnant women, and people with certain chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, weakened immune systems, and neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions.
The seasonal flu vaccine is not expected to protect against H3N2v, however the vaccine is still recommended to protect against other circulating influenza viruses.
The Office of Epidemiology will post weekly updates on H3N2v cases in West Virginia by Thursday of each week at their website www.dide.wv.gov. COC is reporting weekly updates on the situation nationally at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/swineflu/influenza-variant-viruses-h3n2v.htm.