The Indiana State Department of Health, the Indiana Board of Animal Health, and the LaPorte County Health Department are actively investigating an outbreak of four human illnesses associated with the LaPorte County Fair, held July 8-14.  All four individuals had direct contact with swine and all four cases are now recovered.

The State Health Department continues to collect information to determine the extent of the illnesses.  Symptoms reported include cough, fever and sore throat.  Confirmed test results on patient specimens indicate the cause as a variant influenza A virus.  Swine specimens also tested positive for this virus. 

Influenza viruses can be directly transmitted from swine to people and from people to swine.  Human infections are most likely to occur when people are in close proximity to live infected swine, such as in barns and livestock exhibits at fairs.  Influenza viruses are not transmitted by eating pork and pork products. 

Since 2011, 17 human cases of variant influenza A virus have been identified nationwide.  Six of these cases have been identified in Indiana.

Individuals should always wash hands with soap and water before and after petting or touching any animal.  Never eat, drink, or put anything in your mouth in animal areas.  Older adults, pregnant women, young children, and people with weakened immune systems should be extra careful around animals.

Hoosiers who have direct, routine contact with swine, such as working in swine barns or showing swine at fairs, and have experienced cough or influenza-like illness, are advised to contact their health care provider or local health department.  Symptoms include cough, sore throat, fever, body aches and possibly other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

While influenza is not an uncommon diagnosis in pigs, the State Board of Animal Health encourages swine owners to contact a veterinarian if their animals show signs consistent with flu, including coughing, respiratory illness, off-feed and fever. Most county fairs have a private veterinary practitioner on call for on-site assistance.

Additional information regarding influenza can be found at the Indiana State Department of Health Web site at www.in.gov/isdh/25462.htm.