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Indiana Swine-Related Flu Cases at 113

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State health officials have now confirmed 113 cases of variant influenza A in eighteen counties, including locally Porter now as well as LaPorte County, where the first four cases were identified last month. The virus can be transmitted from swine to people, and from people to swine, and has been linked to county fairs in Indiana and elsewhere. State Health Commissioner Dr. Gregory Larkin said it's important for people to know that this is a mild illness, with symptoms similar to seasonal flu. You can help protect yourself thru frequent handwashing and not eating around barn animals.  Health officials say they've not yet determined person-to-person transmission, but continue to investigate the possibility. Here's the full news release:
INDIANAPOLIS—Health officials have now confirmed 113 cases of variant influenza A (H3N2v), impacting 18 counties statewide. State and local health officials continue to investigate the outbreak. More cases are expected to be confirmed this week.
Variant influenza A cases have been confirmed in the following counties: Bartholomew, Greene, Hamilton, Hendricks, Jackson, Jennings, Johnson, Kosciusko, LaPorte, Lawrence, Monroe, Morgan, Owen, Porter, Scott, Tipton, Washington, and White. No cases have been reported in Marion County at this time.
The Indiana State Department of Health has set up a call center to answer the general public’s questions regarding variant influenza A. The call center is open from 8:15 a.m.-4:45 p.m., Monday through Friday.  The call center telephone number is (877) 826-0011.
“It’s important for folks to remember this is a mild illness with symptoms similar to what we see with seasonal flu,” said State Health Commissioner Gregory Larkin, M.D. “Because this is a relatively new strain of flu, only first seen in July of last year, a vaccine is not yet available. However, you can help to protect yourself by practicing thorough and frequent hand washing and by being mindful not to eat around barn animals.”
Flu symptoms usually include fever and respiratory symptoms, such as cough, sore throat, and runny nose, and possibly other symptoms, such as body aches, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea.  Symptoms may last anywhere from three to eight days.
To avoid influenza and other respiratory infections, Hoosiers are reminded to follow these simple practices:
·         Wash your hands frequently, including before and after touching animals.
·         Never eat, drink, or put anything in your mouth when visiting animal areas. 
·         Older adults, pregnant women, young children, and people with weakened immune systems should be extra careful around animals. 
·         Cough or sneeze into your sleeve or elbow. 
·         If possible, avoid contact with those who are ill. 
·         Stay home if you develop influenza symptoms and contact your health care provider. 
Health officials have not determined person to person transmission at this time, but continue to investigate the possibility. Variant Influenza A virus can be directly transmitted from swine to people and from people to swine. Human infections are most likely to occur when people are in close proximity to live infected pigs, such as working with them in barns and livestock exhibits at fairs.  Influenza viruses are not transmitted by eating pork and pork products.
Additional information regarding influenza can be found at the Indiana State Department of Health website at www.in.gov/isdh/25462.htm .
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