Swine flu is back, with a new strain of the virus striking since mid-July and infecting at least 145 people.
The new swine flu outbreak was announced this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which noted that the outbreak is centered in Indiana, CNN.com reported. Of the 145 confirmed cases of influenza A (H3N2), 113 were in Indiana, with 40 in Ohio and one in both Illinois and Hawaii.
But the count is expected to go up, with two more people hospitalized and seven other unconfirmed new cases in Indiana that brought the total there up to 120. The swine flu outbreak has been particularly prevalent among younger patients.
“Surprisingly, the greatest, overwhelming percentage (of cases) is in people 16 years and younger,” Dr. Gregory Larkin, Indiana state health commissioner, told CNN. “As our investigation continues, we’re seeing transmission from ill or infected swine, or hogs, to their handlers, which in most of these cases are kids.”
This concentration among younger patients led Dr. Joseph Bresee, an epidemiologist in the CDC’s Influenza Division, to suspect that the swine flu outbreak is coming from human-to-pig contact at state fairs over the summer.
“This time of the year is the time when you have fairs around the country … thousands of them,” Bresee said. “That accounts for the increased transmission more than anything else.”
The swine flu strain has the same symptoms as the average flu, the Los Angeles Times noted. Most people recover within a few days and in the rare cases that the flu is severe, antiviral drugs have been proven effective.
The CDC reiterated some common-sense precautions to take in the wake of the new swine flu outbreak, like washing hands when coming into contact with pigs and not eating near them.