New strain of swine flu linked to Pa. county fairs

    Usually nestled beyond the amusement rides and carnival barkers, Pennsylvania county fairs showcase lots of livestock. But mix a mass of fair-goers with a drove of pigs, and what do you get?

    This year it’s been a number of people infected with a new variation of swine flu.

    Nationally, more than 300 cases have popped up over the last few months, including one fatal case. Pennsylvania has 11 cases with no deaths.

    “It appears that most of the illness has been in exhibitors or participants in agricultural fairs,” said Stephen Ostroff, Pennsylvania’s acting physician general.

    Luckily, he says this swine flu variant, which has been linked to fairs in the western part of the state, isn’t as strong as the one that cased a pandemic in 2009.

    “There’s no evidence that this virus is very well adapted to humans in that it doesn’t seem to be easily capable of spreading from one person to another,” said Ostroff.

    Pennsylvania health officials call for regular hand washing and warn that those most vulnerable to flu should avoid visiting areas where pigs congregate.

    The current flu vaccine does not protect against this strain.

    Pennsylvania’s county fair season runs though mid-October.

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