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H3N2 Influenza Unlikely to Spread Between Humans, K-State Infectious Disease and Diagnostics Experts Say; Swine Exhibits at Fairs are Safe With Proper Hygiene
Date:8/10/2009

MANHATTAN, Kan., Aug. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Seeing animals up close is an integral part of experiencing the state and county fairs that take place around the country each summer and fall. And with good hygiene, Kansas State University veterinary experts say fair visitors shouldn't worry about contracting diseases from animals.

"Be very attentive to good hygiene and wash your hands after contact with animals," said Gary Anderson, director of K-State's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. "We encourage people to visit animal exhibits at fairs as long as they take appropriate precautions."

A case of H3N2 influenza was reported in Riley County after a child apparently had direct contact with pigs at a county fair. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported that the child completely recovered.

K-State experts said people shouldn't worry excessively about contracting H3N2 from pigs. For one thing, attention to hygiene and proper hand washing are a good defense, they said. Another reason is that this virus does not appear to be particularly virulent for humans.

Not all influenza viruses are like the pandemic H1N1, which has the ability to easily spread from human to human. The K-State researchers said that although H3N2 can pass from pigs to humans, it has not been shown to pass from humans to humans easily. However, there is the potential that it could pass from people back to pigs. This is one reason why workers in swine operations wear masks and other personal protective equipment when working with the animals.

Also, the researchers said it should be emphasized that pork is safe to eat, even when influenza viruses have been involved.

"This H3N2 is a virus that doesn't appear to be particularly virulent for humans," Anderson said. "You could say that the person infected was a dead-end host because it didn't like
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SOURCE Kansas State University
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