PDT Staff Writer
Scioto County’s Health Commissioner, and the 4-H Veterinarian are adamant that there have been no reported cases of swine flu at the Scioto County Fair.
“There have been rumors that there is swine flu or H3N2 virus at the Scioto County Fair. We do not have it here,” Angie Sherman, DVM, said Tuesday. “We are totally healthy at this point. If we would have an outbreak, we have everything in line, and we have direct contact with the state veterinarian.”
Sherman said she was on a conference call with state officials Monday about exactly what to do if cases should arise.
“It is a very mild virus,” Sherman said. “If people get it, it would only be about a 24-hour bug. But the chances are super low.”
Very close to the hog barn is a hand sanitizer dispenser, put there for just such a purpose.
“The most important thing is keeping clean - not eating with unwashed hands, making sure you are washing your hands in warm soapy water,” Sherman said. “The hand sanitizer will kill it. And it is mainly with people with direct contact with pigs, owners, exhibitors, the parents, the vets - all of us who have to directly handle the animals. If you’re just walking by, you’re not going to pick it up. It is not airborne. As far as we know, it is all by contact.”
Sherman said people had been reporting that there were cases on Facebook and even on television.
“The virus is always out there, but the stress of the heat and the humidity,” Sherman said. “And this year it just lingered, and that’s why. Last year there were two cases in the state of Ohio. This year there has been a lot more.”
Scioto County Health Commissioner Dr. Aaron Adams said the rumors most likely got started because there have been cases in Ohio - 15 to be exact.
“Starting early in July, I think around the 12th, we have had, so far in Ohio, 15 cases confirmed by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) in Atlanta,” Adams said. “The ODH (Ohio Department of Health) sent the specimens there, and they were confirmed to be H3N2, which is swine flu. Fourteen of those came from Butler County and one from Clark County, at county fairs. And the people that had gotten that, H3N2, Influenza A, were directly exposed to swine. They were people that were exhibitors, or working around them, most of which were children at the fairs.”
Adams said there was a problem last week in Gallia County in which around 95 people came down with an influenza type illness, 78 were children that had been to the county fair and 17 were adults. Thirty-seven of those tested positive for influenza A. Those specimens were sent to Atlanta in order to determine if they have the H3N2 type. He said two of the children were hospitalized one day and released the next day.
“I can tell you what I know absolutely 100 percent for sure, at least right now, we have none in Scioto County. So far we have had no human-to-human cases at this point,” Adams said. “Nobody has tested positive for any of that. We have, so far, nobody that is suspicious or suspected of having it right now. There might be somebody right now at the ER (emergency room), who knows, and it may show up tomorrow.”
Adams reiterated what Sherman said about practicing hygiene.
“There are a lot of precautions, and I’m sure our fair board and grounds people and exhibitors out there are using the appropriate precautions to protect themselves. I was there last (Monday) night - all the stock looked healthy, and everybody is fine. It is not a problem,” Adams said. “The message I would want to give is, we have no reason to panic or be concerned at this point. But we need to be very cautious. We need to do a lot of hand washing, and use hand sanitizer. When you are around animals of any kind, you need to keep your fingers out of your mouth, and eyes, and nose, and don’t take food around them, and practice good hygiene habits. We want everybody to enjoy the county fair and go on with their lives.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.