Health alert issued after pigs at Jackson County Fair test positive for swine influenza

Swine flu viruses can spread among humans

Swine flu viruses spread among pigs and while rare they can spread from pigs to people too.

JACKSON COUNTY, Mich. – The Jackson County Health Department issued a health alert notice on Friday regarding a recent diagnosis of swine influenza.

On Thursday, ten pigs at the Jackson County Fair were exhibiting signs of illness. On Friday, the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory confirmed that hogs tested positive for a variant of swine influenza.

Samples have been sent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa for the final confirmation and typing.

The Jackson County Health Department and the MSU Extension Office is working with the fair to notify those with the greatest risk for exposure, including swine exhibitors, their families, swine purchasers, and those attendees who have visited the swine barns.

Pigs may be infected with swine influenza viruses that are different from human flu viruses. Swine flu viruses spread among pigs and – while rare – they can spread from pigs to people too.

Spread of swine flu viruses from a pig to a person is thought to happen in the same way that human flu viruses spread; mainly through droplets when infected pigs cough and sneeze. This has happened in different settings, especially at fairs where pigs from many farms come in close contact with each other and with people.

The Jackson County Health Department asks that the groups described above be mindful for symptoms of influenza for 10 days after their last exposure to pigs at the fair.

Patients presenting with influenza-like illness (ILI) who have had recent contact with swine and/or attendance at the Jackson County Fair should be tested for swine variant influenza at the state public health laboratory (additional information below).

Similar to seasonal influenza illness in humans, swine influenza viruses can be treated using influenza antiviral drugs. These medications work better the sooner they are initiated.

Swine influenza in pigs is not a food safety concern. Therefore, you cannot get influenza by eating cooked pork or pork products.

Please contact the Jackson County Health Department Communicable Disease Office at 517-768-1664 if you have any questions.

About the Author:

Natasha Dado

Natasha Dado is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit.