What NOT to catch – Flu Advisory about H3N2 (swine flu)September 21, 2012
Flu season has just begun in Central Texas, but ARC providers and health officials are also monitoring a new strain of swine flu, H3N2. This flu is spread by pigs, and officials in Central Texas and all over the country are urging people to take precautions at state fairs. Most of the cases in the nation have been linked to state fair swine barns. The State Fair of Texas, which starts in Dallas on September 28, already has precautions in place, even though H3N2 has not yet been detected in Texas.
- State Fair officials say contact this year with pigs will be limited.
- Strollers, pacifiers, toys, cups, baby bottles and food are discouraged in the livestock area as a precaution.
- Every animal entering the State Fair of Texas will be inspected by a veterinarian before being allowed into the barns.
"We're reducing what we can as far as in the petting areas," said State Fair spokeswoman Sue Gooding. "We do have a veterinarian here, and as long as the county health director is OK with us bringing the pigs in for the pig show, we will continue to do that. But we will encourage everyone to clean their hands."
H3N2 flu affects people like the regular flu, though may be milder, and is not covered by this year’s flu shots.
But universal precautions and preventions are urged for all children and adults, including these recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and ARC:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
- Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze
- Alcohol-based cleaners are also effective
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- If you get sick with influenza, the CDC and ARC recommend that you stay home from work or school, and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
And get your flu vaccination, now available in most ARC clinics. Immunization is recommended for children over 6 months of age and adults, especially seniors and those with compromised immune systems. Be smart – immunize!