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CDC: Pigs at state fairs are giving children swine flu


(NaturalNews) Deep-fried Twinkies, clouds of colorful cotton candy, and swine flu? These are some of the things you might encounter at your local state fair, at least according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The agency has issued a new warning to parents that children who touch or go near pigs at the agricultural booths of their local state fairs may end up coming down with a variant influenza viral infection that could potentially make them very ill.

The warning comes after at least 16 children and two adults in Michigan and Ohio developed influenza A, or H3N2, after encountering sow at showcased fair events targeted towards families. In a published report, the CDC explains how this flu strain isn't typically common in humans, and historically spreads only in pigs. But its variant can infect people, and that seems to be the case throughout pockets of the Midwest.

According to reports, all 18 affected individuals had previously attended a state fair where pigs were present, and most of them told authorities that they touched or in some way handled pigs while they were there. Only a handful of people indicated indirect contact with pigs that involved simply passing through a swine barn, while one person claimed some other form of unspecified, indirect contact that presumably involved something other than just being in close proximity to pigs.

Only one of the individuals who contracted swine flu had to be hospitalized, and all of them have since recovered. And while the virus is potentially very serious, especially in the very young and the immune-compromised, authorities say there isn't any solid evidence to suggest that it passes from person to person, which means the chances of it triggering a large outbreak are relatively slim.

Mystery swine flu may be approaching human-to-human spreading ability

At the same time, experts have already identified at least two variant H3N2 viral strains amongst the known cases of infections, which suggests that unexpected viral mutations are already occurring. Furthermore, a CDC inquiry into the spreading strains has revealed what's known as "reassortant," or the presence of viral gene segments from both human and swine flu viruses.

This is problematic because it shows that the virus is adapting and mixing with other viral strains to do what it does best – spread, both quickly and as efficiently as possible. It also opens up the door to the possibility that novel strains of H3N2 may soon have the capacity to spread from person to person rather than just from animal to person.

The whole thing "is a little concerning," to quote the words of Dr. Greg Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic's vaccine research group. According to Dr. Poland, the fact that one of the genes is of human origin "puts that virus in a position where it is more likely to be transmitted from human to human," and could eventually make it fully resistant to antiviral drugs like amantadine and rimantadine.

"This has occurred ever since man, fowl, and swine closely interacted with each other," Dr. Poland, who also serves as a member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, told CNN. "In the past, this would have never been detected. No one would have understood that it had happened, and life would go on."

As to what people can do to avoid infection, Dr. Poland says maintaining proper hygiene, including washing one's hands after petting an unknown animal, is simply common sense. Bolstering the immune system with proper nutrition, rest, and hydration also goes a long way in keeping infection potential to a minimum, as a well-functioning immune system is often capable of warding off viral infections all on its own.



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