Updated: 10:52 a.m. Friday, Aug. 10, 2012 | Posted: 4:38 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012
FAQs on H3N2v
Question: What is H3N2v?
Answer: It’s a new flu strain that’s begun circulating in Ohio, Indiana and other states around the U.S. So far this summer, it’s only spreading between infected pigs and people, which makes it a concern during county fair season.
Q: How serious is it?
A: So far, symptoms have been similar to a mild seasonal flu, with fever, cough, sore throat and body aches. Only one person has been hospitalized in Ohio, and that was for precautionary reasons, according to state health officials.
Q: Why shouldn’t I call it swine flu?
A: Because, though pigs are involved, the virus is actually a mixture of viruses that originated in different species. It can infect pigs and people, so calling it swine flu is inaccurate.
Q: How is it different from seasonal flu?
A: For now at least, it’s not spreading from person-to-person, the way seasonal flu does. That may change, since flu viruses can mutate easily. In terms of symptoms, H3N2v is similar to a mild seasonal flu.
Q: What’s being done to prevent this new virus from spreading?
A: Farmers and veterinarians are focusing on swine populations. At county fairs this year, veterinarians are routinely checking livestock exhibits for signs of sick pigs. And every year, vets randomly test pigs for signs of flu and other infections. Sick pigs are pulled out of exhibits, swabbed for testing purposes and quarantined. People who work with swine are being reminded to wash their hands frequently and report flu-like illnesses to their doctors. Fair-goers are urged to wash their hands after visiting the livestock barns and not to eat or drink in the barns because even if they don’t actually touch the animals, the virus could land on their food and be ingested if a sick animal coughs or sneezes.
Q: Can I get H3N2v from eating pork products?
A: No. The virus is not spread through pork meat.
Protecting yourself against the flu
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 your 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.