By Marissa Evans
From: The Washington Post
Photo: MARVIN JOSEPH/TWP/THE WASHINGTON POST – Spectators cheer for racing pigs at the annual Howard County Fair
Health officials in the Washington region are urging people to be cautious at agricultural fairs this summer after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported an increase in the number of swine flu cases linked to pigs at such fairs in other parts of the country.
The CDC said there were 12 new cases of the H3N2v virus in the past week in Hawaii, Ohio and Indiana, and all were linked to people who attended or exhibited swine at an agricultural fair. Although no cases have been reported in the District, Maryland or Virginia, local officials suggest those at high risk for the flu — including children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with weak immune systems — avoid exposure to pigs at county fairs as the Washington region hits the annual fair season.
“There are so many opportunities to wash your hands on the grounds,” Svrcek said. “We feel pretty comfortable with the safety precautions we’ve taken.”
He said safety is his most important priority for the fair.
“As our urbanized society has moved farther from farms, many folks who are city dwellers have not developed the same kind of immunities that farmers or people who have been around farms have,” Svrcek said.
Although swine flu has not been widespread in humans this year — the CDC reports 29 confirmed cases in the United States since August 2011 — health and fair officials recommend that people avoid touching pigs. Typically, pigs contract the virus in their intestines and throats and can pass it easily.
Swine flu symptoms are similar to regular flu symptoms, including fever, coughing and sneezing.
Read more: The Washington Post