August 16, 2012 – The first Michigan case of variant H3N2 (H3N2v) influenza has been identified, according to a statement issued Tuesday by the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH). The victim is a child from Washtenaw County who was exposed to swine at the Ingham County Fair on August 1. The child had a mild illness and was not hospitalized. Preliminary test results from the MDCH Bureau of Laboratories indicate the presence of the H3N2v virus, and the specimen will be sent on to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for confirmatory tests.
According to the CDC, 145 cases of H3N2v had been reported as of last week, with most of them – 113 cases – occurring in Indiana. Thirty (30) were reported in Ohio, one in Illinois and one in Hawaii. Most of those afflicted are children under 18 years of age, and most cases have been mild. The CDC has also stated that, although the outbreaks will continue to be monitored closely, they do not constitute a pandemic. Direct exposure to infected pigs has been the primary cause, and there is no clear evidence of sustained human-to-human spread of the virus. With the arrival of Northern Michigan's county fair season, Joshua Meyerson, M.D., Medical Director for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, offers some special precautions for fairgoers, and anyone else who may be exposed to pigs or areas where swine are kept, such as livestock barns.
“High-risk people – that is, people with underlying lung, heart or immune system problems – should avoid contact with pigs, and the barns where they are held,” Dr. Meyerson cautioned. “Everyone should avoid eating or drinking while in these facilities, and never take children's 'sippy cups' into the barns. Hand-washing stations or hand sanitizers should be available, and should be used.”The CDC also recommends avoiding close contact with swine, particularly those that appear or act ill. Individuals who develop flu-like symptoms should follow normal precautions, seek medical treatment and follow physician recommendations. Any recent exposures to swine or livestock facilities should be reported to the physician at the time of treatment, for possible follow-up investigation.
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties.For more information and updates on H3N2v in Michigan, visit the Health Department of Northwest Michigan online at www.nwhealth.org, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nwhealthdepartment, or follow us on Twitter.