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Swine Flu Outbreak Leads Health Officials To Urge Caution At County Fairs

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HOWARD COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — An increase in the number of swine flu cases has national health leaders urging people to be careful when attending county fairs.

Monique Griego has more on where the virus is popping up.

There have been no swine flu cases reported in Maryland. At the Howard County fair, people showcasing their pigs are taking extra precautions to keep it that way.

A recent string of swine flu in several states has health leaders and county fair-goers on alert.

“Oh, it makes me nervous. I had a son who had MRSA and been sick,” said one attendee.

The swine flu virus originates in pigs but can be transferred to humans. Right now, there are no cases in Maryland but according to the CDC, 29 cases have been reported since last summer. Twelve of them popped up in the last week of July in Ohio, Indiana and Hawaii. All of those cases were linked to people who interacted with pigs at county fairs.

“Touching a pig, getting secretions from a pig on hands, then touching their eyes or nose and getting flu that way,” said Dr. Peter Beilenson, Howard County Health Department.

Beilenson says the swine flu isn’t uncommon. So far, no deaths have been reported.

At the Howard County fair, swine farmers weren’t taking any chances.

“We all check to make sure not only that they look healthy, but that they sound healthy,” Jackie Bauer said.

The Howard County Fair also has a swine flu superintendent who is constantly checking on the health of the pigs.

Doctors say people can protect themselves simply by washing their hands and using hand sanitizer.

This current strain of the swine flu virus is different than the one that caused a pandemic in 2009.

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