MADISON, Wis. - State health officials said 14 people exposed to pigs at the state or county fairs have been infected with a new strain of swine flu.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services officials said all 14 people were infected with the H3N2 virus. H3N2 can cause fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing as well as vomiting and diarrhea.
All of the people were exposed to pigs at the Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis or at county fairs in Kenosha, Dodge and Manitowoc counties. Officials said most of the afflicted were children. One child was hospitalized but all the victims are either recovering or have recovered.
Health officials are urging caution for people attending county fairs.
"While this strain of influenza appears to cause an illness similar to seasonal strains, keep in mind that any influenza can cause very severe illness in certain people," said Dr. Henry Anderson, state health officer, in a news release. "Because H3N2v infections have been associated with four Wisconsin fairs already, we are recommending that older adults, pregnant women, young children and people with weakened immune systems or chronic medical conditions should avoid entering swine barns at fairs this season."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 276 cases of H3N2 flu in humans since July across 10 states.
While nearly all of the human infections occurred in individuals directly or indirectly exposed to pigs, mostly in agricultural fair settings, the CDC is also reporting three instances of likely human-to-human spread of the virus during the current outbreak.
However, there is currently no evidence of sustained person-to-person transmission within communities. Also, influenza has not been shown to be transmitted by eating properly handled and prepared pork or other products derived from pigs, according to health officials.