Those familiar with the history of influenza probably know about the 1918 outbreak of swine influenza in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In the fall of that year, the National Swine Show and Exposition in Cedar Rapids opened, bringing people and their hogs from miles around. Soon after it opened its doors, people noticed their swine were becoming sick--and the symptoms looked suspisciously like those of human influenza. When the virus was characterized years later, it was indeed found to be the influenza virus--and it was very similar to ones that were isolated from humans.
This characterization of the 1918 pandemic virus (serotype H1N1) as "swine flu" came back to haunt us in 1976, when H1N1 caused the death of a solider at Fort Dix, New Jersey and triggered a mass vaccination campaign here in the U.S. (with its subsequent fallout). Since then, sporadic human cases of swine influenza have been reported, either clincally (such as this one in Iowa earlier this year, or subclinically, as described in this research. Now in Ohio, they're looking to see whether swine flu has again jumped into humans. More after the jump...
There has been two confirmed cases of flu at the Huron County Fair that health officials are investigating to see if it was transmitted from pigs to humans.
The influenza A cases were confirmed, through rapid screening, in a fair exhibitor and the exhibitor's father, according to the Huron County General Health District. There has also been reports of flu-like symptoms in pigs at the county fairgrounds.
''At this point, no connection has been medically established between the swine and human cases,'' said Tim Hollinger, administrator of the Huron County General Health District.
No testing has been done yet to confirm what is causing the illness in the pigs, he said.
Though vets say that the pigs, if they are suffering from influenza, are past the point of being contagious, the fair officials shut down the swine exhibits as a precaution. Just another reminder of the hazards that can lurk at petting zoos and county fairs.