Minnesota has recorded its first confirmed case and a second probable case of a new flu strain that people can catch from pigs, the Department of Health said Monday.
The cases are in siblings who probably were exposed when their family visited a live animal market in Dakota County on Aug. 10. Neither child required hospitalization and both are recovering, the department said in a news release.
Humans usually get the new flu strain from pigs rather than people. Over 200 cases have been reported in eight other states, mostly in children who exhibited pigs at state or county fairs, or people who visited swine exhibits at fairs.
State health officials emphasized that this strain does not pose any food safety risk — there’s no evidence anyone can get it by eating pork. The illness also tends to be relatively mild. Hospitalization rates have been relatively low. But they pointed out that this year’s regular seasonal flu vaccine will not protect against the strain, which is known as variant H3N2 (H3N2v).
They also stressed that there’s no reason to discourage anyone from visiting the upcoming Minnesota State Fair, county fairs, live animal markets or other venues where pigs may be present.
But health department and State Fair officials are discouraging fairgoers and exhibitors from eating, drinking or placing anything in their mouths while in animal exhibit areas. They’re also emphasizing the importance of washing hands with soap and running water after any exposure to animals. People who have a fever or other flu symptoms are advised to avoid contact with pigs because they can catch H3N2v from humans.