No human cases confirmed as of Monday
IMLAY CITY — As of Monday, there were no confirmed human cases of swine flu connected to an outbreak of the disease at the Eastern Michigan State Fair.
Lapeer County Health Department Director Kathy Haskins said her agency has received the results of two tests and both were negative for novel influenza but several other people possibly affected were to be tested this week.
“At this time we have no human cases associated with exposure at the Eastern Michigan State Fair,” Haskins said.
Last Wednesday, the Health Department announced that pigs at the 2019 fair in Imlay City tested positive for the disease. The animals first began showing symptoms on Friday evening, July 26, and test results confirming the illness were received late on Tuesday, July 30. In a press release Haskins said all pigs were removed from the fairgrounds early Saturday. Health officials noted that swine flu can spread quickly between pigs and rarely the illness can pass to humans through droplets in the air.
Haskins said their first task was to work with the Eastern Michigan State Fair Board to reach out to exhibitors, their families, attendees who visited the swine barn and anyone who may have been in close contact with the infected pigs. The health department also began urging health care providers in the area to watch for patients presenting with respiratory symptoms who said they visited the fair.
The symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of seasonal flu and usually appear within three days of exposure but can occur up to 10 days later. Certain people are at a higher risk of developing complications if they contract swine flu: children younger than five years of age, people 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, and people with certain chronic health diseases, such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, weakened immune systems, and neurological conditions.
“Individuals exposed to the pigs at the fair who begin to show symptoms should see their healthcare provider and inform them of possible exposure,” Haskins said, noting that antiviral drugs including Tamiflu and Relenza are effective in treating swine flu.
Haskins said that labs must report positive test results to the county but not all specimens are specifically tested for it.
“We have received a number of calls from physicians offices regarding testing procedures, as well as some from the public reporting possible symptoms,” she noted.
“Physicians are provided with information for the State Lab where they can submit specimens for testing.”
According to media reports, the swine flu was also confirmed last week at the Fowlerville Family Fair in Livingston County.
In response to the recent outbreaks, State Veterinarian Nora Wineland, DVM said the following:
“The goal is always to have a summer completely free of swine influenza at our state’s fairs. Realistically though, summer conditions, animal movement, and shared spaces are an ideal environment for influenza. But we know this, and that’s why we’re always prepared to act swiftly to protect the health of the animals and the people around them. And whenever there is a case of swine influenza at a fair, we use it as an opportunity to educate and review biosecurity procedures.”
Generally accepted biosecurity procedures, according to Michigan State University Extension, include not allowing food or beverages in a swine barn or tent and encouraging exhibitors and fair visitors to wash their hands regularly.
Anyone with questions related to this swine flu incident can call the Lapeer County Health Department at 810-667-0448 and ask for the nurse on call.