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8 People Sick After Exposure to Sick Pigs At State Fairs

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Michigan officials say eight people have gotten the flu after being exposed to sick pigs at county fairs in Muskegon, Cass and Ingham counties.  Earlier this month, officials announced two human cases linked to the Muskegon County.  WGVU talked with Muskegon County Health Officials regarding this latest update.

“This strain has been circulating from swine to humans, largely at these fairs for the last 2-3 years.”

That’s Dr. Doug Hoch. He’s the medical director with Public Health Muskegon County and says there’s been a fair number of swine flu cases this year.  The Michigan departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture and Rural Development announced the update today.  They report that 8 people have gotten the flu after being exposed to sick pigs at county fairs. 

“This is probably a few more cases than last year, that people working closely with the pigs in these county fair exhibits, these are exhibitors have gotten a strain of flu that is of swine origin.”

But Dr. Hoch says this is not the classic H1N1 swine flu strain that caused a panic back in 2009.  This one is known as H3N2 and Hoch says is highly treatable, though there is no vaccine.  And Dr. Hoch says it seems to strike younger or older individuals.  The two human cases in Muskegon he says were 9 and 10 years old.

“There’s some interesting epidemiology, I don’t want to get too detailed.  But younger humans don’t have any immunity to this strain of H3n2 variant and older people don’t either it seems.  You notice in Muskegon county our cases were 9 and 10 year old and that’s been typical of this variant, where people in the middle seem to have some resistance to this.”

Symptoms of swine flu in people can be similar to other flu viruses, including fever, aches and vomiting.  Dr. Hoch says precautions such as handwashing and not eating or drinking where the pigs are located,  are good preventative steps.  The federal government meantime, says Michigan had nine cases from 2012 to 2015.


Jennifer is an award winning broadcast news journalist with more than two decades of professional television news experience including the nation's fifth largest news market. She's worked as both news reporter and news anchor for television and radio in markets from Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo all the way to San Francisco, California.