Indiana says swine flu cases rise ten-fold, now at 113

INDIANAPOLIS Wed Aug 8, 2012 4:47pm EDT

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INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - Swine flu is spreading in Indiana, with human cases rising tenfold in a week, state public health officials said on Wednesday, confirming 113 people are infected and saying they expect to see more.

The total confirmed cases of the Influenza A variant virus that has been transmissible from swine to humans in Indiana jumped from just 11 last week. The cases, which show symptoms of a mild seasonal flu, have been found in 18 counties across the state, state health official said.

On Monday, Indiana said it was closing the swine barn at its state fair one day early after six pigs showed elevated temperatures that could be a sign of the illness.

"It's important for folks to remember this is a mild illness with symptoms similar to what we see with seasonal flu," Dr. Gregory Larkin, the state's health commissioner, said in a statement.

Health officials have warned people to wash their hands before and after they are near swine and to not eat or drink in close proximity to pigs.

Federal officials have reported an unusually high number of human swine flu cases from a relatively new strain, influenza A variant, that came up last year.

Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned people to be cautious around pigs after several cases of swine flu were linked to attendance at agricultural fairs where sick pigs were present.

At the time, the CDC reported a dozen new cases of the swine flu variant had pushed the number of total cases to 29 seen since the H3N2v strain had surfaced in July 2011. Since last week, health officials in Ohio and Indiana had reported additional cases.

In Ohio, officials said they now had 30 confirmed cases, double the previous total, all in people who had direct contact with swine at fairs. No human-to-human passage of the virus has been confirmed in Ohio, officials said.

The flu in swine rarely jumps to humans, but can be spread when people are standing near an infected pig that coughs or sneezes. The flu also can be spread when a person touches an infected pig or a surface, and then their own mouth or nose.

"We believe most of these cases are still due to contact with pigs," CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said on Wednesday. "However, limited human-to-human transmission with this virus has been observed in the past and we expect that some human to human spread will be observed in these current outbreaks."

(Additional reporting by Karen Pierog in Chicago; Writing by David Bailey; Editing by Corrie MacLaggan and David Gregorio)

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Comments (1)
Swine flu won’t matter if the H3N8 that has spread to some mammals infects and kills us in large numbers.
BBC — Researchers were puzzled by the mysterious deaths from pneumonia of 162 harbour seals around the coast of New England last year.
Autopsies on five of the marine mammals indicate that they died from a type of H3N8 influenza A virus that is closely related to a strain circulating in North American birds since 2002.
One of authors of the research paper is Prof Ian Lipkin, from Columbia University in the US. He helped identify West Nile virus and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Finding this flu virus in seals was an interesting “new jump”.
“It’s something that’s been circulating for a while in birds, but we’ve not had this sort of die off relating to this virus in the past. As we’ve looked at it in some detail, we’ve found there have been mutations in this virus which enable it to bind to both bird receptors for flu as well as mammalian receptors for flu.”
As well as mutating to live in both animals and birds the scientists say this flu has evolved to make it more likely to cause severe symptoms. The virus also has the ability to target a protein found in the human respiratory tract.

Aug 09, 2012 11:40am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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