Colton Tucker gives water to a pig to be shown at the California State Fair in Sacramento in July. Federal health officials say most of the cases of a new flu virus in Indiana, Ohio and Hawaii after kids came in direct contact with pigs at agricultural fairs.
Colton Tucker gives water to a pig to be shown at the California State Fair in Sacramento in July. Federal health officials say most of the cases of a new flu virus in Indiana, Ohio and Hawaii after kids came in direct contact with pigs at agricultural fairs. Rich Pedroncelli/AP
Federal health officials Friday reported a jump this summer in the number of people who have gotten infected with a new swine flu virus.
Sixteen cases of the new H3N2 swine flu have been confirmed in the last few weeks, including 12 in the last week alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
Ten of last week's cases occurred in Ohio, while the two others were in Indiana and Hawaii.
The new cases brings the total number of cases of the new virus in people to 29 since the pathogen was first identified last year.
Almost all the infections have occurred in people who had close contact with pigs — mostly kids at agricultural fairs.
Officials aren't too worried yet because the virus isn't spreading easily from person to person. Only three of the cases were hospitalized and no one has died, according the CDC's Joseph Bresee.
But whenever a pig virus jumps to people, it always raises concerns about a possible outbreak because so few people have immunity against it. And, as we've reported, there's been more talk in recent years about the need for better monitoring the health of the animals most likely to pass on a flu virus with pandemic potential — pigs and birds.
Some have criticized the pork industry for its reluctance to share data with human health officials. In 2010, the CDC and U.S. Department of Agriculture finally set up a surveillance system for pigs they've been discussing for years.
But as for the current outbreak, the CDC is urging are urging people to wash their hands a lot and take other precautions whenever they have close contact with pigs.