Michigan resident gets swine flu after attending county fair; first case this year

State health officials urge caution around pigs during fair season after fairgoer gets sick

A hog walks in a holding pen on the Ron Mardesen farm, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, near Elliott, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) (Charlie Neibergall, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

A Michigan resident contracted swine flu after coming into contact with swine during a county fair on the state’s west side, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

State health officials are urging people to be cautious when attending fairs where swine are present after a resident contracted influenza A H1N2 -- also known as swine influenza or swine flu -- after attending the Berrien County Youth Fair in August. This resident is the first to contract the virus in Michigan this year.

Swine flu is a respiratory disease in pigs caused by viruses that regularly circulate among their species. Health officials say humans don’t normally contract the illness, but the virus can spread to people who have contact with a sick pig. Swine flu doesn’t usually cause more severe illness than other influenza viruses in humans.

Click here to learn more about swine influenza from the CDC.

People cannot contract swine flu from eating properly prepared pork or handling pork products, health officials said.

Because fair season in Michigan lasts into October, MDHHS is urging Michigan residents to take the following steps:

  • Anyone who is at high risk of serious flu complications and is planning to attend a fair should avoid pigs and swine barns.
  • Refrain from eating or drinking in livestock barns or show rings.
  • Do not take toys, pacifiers, cups, baby bottles, strollers or similar items into pig areas.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Avoid contact with pigs if you have flu-like symptoms. This includes being in a swine barn if you are ill as influenza can be spread via respiratory droplets.
  • If you are sick, stay home from work or school until your illness is over.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it and wash your hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Anyone who had contact with swine at the Berrien County fair is asked to monitor themselves for symptoms, and talk with their primary car physician to determine if a diagnostic test if needed. There has not been any reports about person-to-person spread in connection with this Michigan case.

See MDHHS’ full news release on the case here.

Related: Michigan DNR reminds hunters to watch out for signs of bird flu this year

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.