The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control says it is taking steps to prevent a new form of swine flu from spreading into the state. It is also asking the public to be careful as the South Carolina State Fair approaches next month.
DHEC officials say they are working with Clemson University Livestock Poultry Health to try to find ways of preventing the newly identified H3N2v swine flu virus. H3N2v is a variant influenza that is normally circulated in pigs, but has been detected in humans. The case has not been found in South Carolina yet, the agency says.
“Spread of the new influenza virus has been limited to people who have had direct contact with infected pigs or are close contacts of those who are infected,” Interim State Epidemiologist Linda Bell said in a statement Tuesday, “Many cases resulted from caring for pigs at local fairs. With the upcoming arrival of the (South Carolina) State Fair and several county fairs across the state, we encourage people to take good sense steps to protect themselves against possible exposure.”
In the statement, DHEC warns people to keep their hands clean and not to bring food inside the fair’s barns. The agency also recommends avoiding contact with pigs that appear ill in order to avoid catching the virus. The announcement even went so far as to recommend that young children, pregnant women, and adults with weakened immune systems avoid pigs and swine barns at the fairs this year.
South Carolina Radio Network’s Tripp Girardeau contributed to this report.