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State health officials: 14 confirmed swine flu cases in Wisconsin

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MADISON — Wisconsin health officials say there are now 14 confirmed swine flu cases in the state. All cases occurred in individuals who were exposed to or in proximity to pigs at either the Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis, or county fairs in Kenosha, Dodge and Manitowoc counties.

Officials say the majority of cases are children, with an average age of 10-years-old.

All affected individuals recovered or are currently recovering from their illnesses.  One child was hospitalized briefly.

Due to the strong correlation between these cases and exposure to swine exhibits, health officials urge caution for people attending county fairs. 

“Because (swine flu) infections have been associated with four Wisconsin fairs already, we are recommending that older adults, pregnant women, young children, and people with weakened immune systems or chronic medical conditions should avoid entering swine barns at fairs this season,” Dr. Henry Anderson, State Health Officer said in a statement.

Symptoms include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing. Some people also have reported runny nose, sore throat, eye irritation, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Most cases have resolved without treatment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 276 cases of human infections with swine flu since July, with 10 states now affected. 

While nearly all of the human infections occurred in individuals directly or indirectly exposed to pigs, mostly in agricultural fair settings, the CDC is also reporting three instances of likely human-to-human spread of the virus during the current outbreak. However, there is currently no evidence of sustained person-to-person transmission within communities. Also, influenza has not been shown to be transmitted by eating properly handled and prepared pork or other products derived from pigs.

The Wisconsin Division of Public Health and the CDC recommend these precautions to avoid infection:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and running water before and after exposure to pigs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Never eat, drink or put things in your mouth in areas where there are pigs, and don’t take food or drink into these areas.
  • Never take toys, pacifiers, spill-proof cups, baby bottles, strollers or similar items into areas where there are pigs.
  • Avoid close contact with pigs that look or act ill.
  • Children younger than 5 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) are at high risk from serious complications if they get influenza. These people should consider avoiding exposure to pigs and swine barns this fair season, especially if sick pigs have been identified.

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