The Delaware Division of Public Health recently announced the state’s first laboratory-confirmed case of a variant influenza virus — in this instance H3N2v — in a female Sussex County resident younger than 18, who had close contact with pigs at a county fair in Maryland.

The case is mild and the individual is recovering. No additional information will be released on the individual to protect her privacy.

Any individual who visited a Maryland County fair within the last seven to 10 days, had contact with pigs and has developed flu symptoms after their last exposure are encouraged to call their medical provider to discuss the potential need for a flu test.

When an influenza virus that normally infects pigs is found in people, it is called a “variant” influenza virus. While it is not possible to determine exactly where the individual contracted the variant flu, also commonly known as the swine flu, the Maryland Department of Agriculture has been investigating the appearance of this virus in pigs at the fairs in Charles and Frederick counties.

The Maryland Department of Health also announced “presumptive” positive cases of variant flu in Maryland residents who had close contact with pigs at the Anne Arundel County Fair.

Human infections with swine flu occur in people who have been exposed to infected pigs — e.g., children handling pigs at agricultural fairs or workers in the swine industry. Illnesses associated with variant influenza virus infections are usually mild with symptoms similar to those of seasonal flu, including fever and respiratory symptoms, such as sore throat and cough. While rare, limited human-to-human transmission of this variant also has occurred in the past, but has not been widespread or sustained. The treatment recommendations for this strain of influenza are the same as for seasonal flu.

Individuals at higher risk for complications of influenza should consider avoiding exposure to pigs and swine barns. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that individuals not at high risk for complications should wash 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.

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