H3N2 virus confirmed in Union County
The Union County Health Department reported announced Aug. 16 that the county has one confirmed case of Influenza A variant H3N2, also known as H3N2.
The individual, a local youth, experienced typical flu symptoms and is recuperating at home. Like most of the H3N2v cases, the individual recently had attended an out-of-county fair and is believed to have had contact with the swine exhibits.
While local health officials still are encouraging fair attendance, they are working closely with the local agricultural community to limit the spread of this virus.
“All of the Ohio H3N2v cases had direct contact with swine, primarily at fairs. Because of this link, we are working with our agriculture partners and the Richwood Independent Fair board to prevent the spread of H3N2v within our community,” Health Commissioner Jason Orcena said. “Agriculture and livestock are an important part of our community, and we encourage residents to enjoy the fair. By engaging in some basic healthy habits like hand washing and not eating or drinking when around livestock, we can both celebrate agriculture and stay healthy.”
The Centers for Disease Control first identified a small number of H3N2 infections in August 2011. In July and August 2012, multiple cases were reported in Indiana and Ohio. To date, there are 66 cases in 17 Ohio counties, bringing the national total to more than 150 cases.
“Influenza A variant H3N2 (also known as H3N2v) is a version of a flu virus common to swine but seldom seen in humans. Prior to this recent outbreak, human infection with H3N2v was very sporadic,” said Mary Salimbene, epidemiologist for the Union County Health Department.
“H3N2v is genetically very different from the seasonal flu virus that typically infects people each winter. In addition, a gene from the 2009 H1N1 pandemic flu virus has been found in H3N2v.
The CDC believes this gene could make H3N2v more likely to spread from pigs to humans, and could possibly make it easier to spread from person to person.”
It is the increased number of cases and the presence of this gene that has health officials monitoring the situation carefully.