Three states report new cases of variant H3N2

Aug 16, 2012 (CIDRAP News) – Two more states—Michigan and West Virginia—reported their first cases this summer of variant swine-origin H3N2 influenza (H3N2v) that has been linked to exposure to pigs at fairs.

Also, Ohio health officials are reporting 72 cases, an increase of 18 from the total the state released on Aug 14. The new cases from Ohio, plus the cases in Michigan and West Virginia, appear to push the national number of new H3N2v cases this summer to 198.

The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) said yesterday that its first patient is a child from Washtenaw County who was recently exposed to pigs at the Ingham County Fair.

Dean Sienko, MD, MS, the MDCH's interim chief medical executive, said in the statement that although the virus is new to Michigan, simple steps, such as washing hands frequently with soap and water after exposure to animals, can be taken to avoid getting sick.

Meanwhile, the Michigan’s assistant state veterinarian, Nancy Frank, DVM, MPH, emphasized that the new virus doesn't pose a food safety risk, because influenza isn't transmitted by food, and people can't get sick with influenza from eating pork and pork products.

Meanwhile, West Virginia yesterday reported its first three H3N2v cases of the summer, which occurred in Mason County, according to a statement from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR).

Marian Swinker, MD, MPH, West Virginia’s state health officer and commissioner for public health, said in the statement that the three cases were linked to attendance at the Gallia County Fair in Ohio, where swine were present.

"We will not be surprised to identify more cases of H3N2v in West Virginia as surveillance efforts to detect this illness have increased," she said. The WVDHHR said it would post updates on new H3N2v cases in West Virginia each Thursday on its Web site.

In December 2011, West Virginia reported two H3N2v infections, both in children who were daycare contacts and had no history of exposure to pigs, according to previous reports.

In other developments, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) said today that the number of H3N2v cases in the state has risen to 72, up from 54 cases on Aug 14. Infections have been reported from 20 counties, though more than half of them are from three counties: Butler, Champaign, and Gallia.

Tomorrow the CDC will issue an update on the number of H3N2v reports it has received over the past week.

See also:

Aug 15 MDCH statement

Aug 15 WVDHHR statement

Aug 16 ODH statement

Dec 23, 2011, CIDRAP News story "CDC reports two more novel flu infections"

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