By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
An outbreak of a new strain of swine flu hasn’t spoiled 5-year-old Cade Patterson’s plans to raise pigs for the Mississippi State Fair.
“We’re just taking common-sense precautions,” said his grandfather, Terry Patterson, who raises pigs on their family farm on the Monroe-Lee county line.
The case count for new strain, formally called H3N2v, jumped from 29 last week to 158 this week, according to the Centers for Disease Control, but no cases have been reported in Mississippi. Indiana is the hot spot with 113 confirmed cases. The CDC also reported cases in Ohio, Illinois and Hawaii.
CDC epidemiologists say it appears the flu strain is passed from direct contact with pigs. Most of the people who have gotten sick have been children who raised pigs or visited pigs at fairs.
The flu has relatively mild symptoms. Only two of those with swine flu have needed to be hospitalized, and they have recovered.
Most swine disease outbreaks are in the Midwest because that’s where the largest pig populations are, said Terry Patterson.
“This time of year, there are big shows in the Midwest,” Patterson said. “You’ll see it crop up.”
Public health officials are encouraging folks who attend fairs to avoid petting pigs and to wash their hands thoroughly after attending agricultural events or exhibiting animals.
The Pattersons, as a rule, carefully limit who has access to their pigs to avoid diseases. “We’re basically isolated,” Patterson said.
If this outbreak follows the traditional pattern, Patterson expects it to be old news by the time the Mississippi State Fair rolls around in early October. “It usually levels off,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.