Cases of swine flu variant reported in West Virginia
Three human cases of H3N2v, a variant of swine flu, have been confirmed in Mason County by the Office of Epidemiology and Prevention Services of the West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources.
Mason County is located along the Ohio River between Parkersburg and Huntington.
H3N2v is an Influenza A virus that contains genes from avian, swine and human viruses that normally circulates in swine, but can infect humans.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has reported an increase in H3N2v cases in several states, including Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.
Over 90% of the cases involved children who had been exposed to swine at agriculture fairs and 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,” said Dr. Marian Swinker, the West Virginia Health Officer and Public Health Commissioner.
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.
“We will not be surprised to identify more cases of H3N2v in West Virginia as surveillance efforts to detect this illness have increased. CDC 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,” Swinker said.
Precautions against the virus including frequent hand washing, 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. This includes children younger than five, people 65 years and older, pregnant women and those with chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, weakened immune systems, and neurological conditions.
The seasonal flu vaccine is not expected to protect against H3N2v, but state officials recommend the vaccine against other influenza viruses that are circulating.