The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department is investigating three influenza cases officials suspect started with a single pig at the California Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles in July.
“We know in each case that these patients had potential exposure to pigs at the Mid-State Fair,” explained Penny Borenstein, a SLO County health officer.
Although animal to human virus transmissions is not uncommon, doctors say it becomes an issue when the disease spreads from person to person.
“So if the human population doesn’t have immunity and it can spread person to person, that is the more worrisome thing,” said Borenstein.
If you went to the Mid-State Fair last month, pay attention to these symptoms:
“Fever, sore throat, cough, aching body, fatigue, things of that nature which we don’t typically see in the summer,” explained Borenstein.
The SLO County Public Health Department is expecting lab results from the Center for Disease Control by the end of the week to fully determine whether the flu virus was indeed transmitted by a pig at the fair.
A pig that was at the California Mid-State Fair may be connected to several cases of influenza in San Luis Obispo.
The County of San Luis Obispo Public Health Department is investigating several cases of influenza. Health Officials say these people had extended contact with pigs at the fair. At this time, Public Health does not have any laboratory confirmation that the cases are linked to pigs.
All laboratory-confirmed local cases of the flu are being investigated and the patients have recovered on their own within several days. Health Officials say even those these cases may be different from the viruses that commonly circulate among people during flu season, the symptoms are the same.
The Public Health Department would like to confirm that the flu cannot be transmitted by eating pork.
Here are some FAQs provided by the Public Health Department about protecting yourself and the community against the flu.
How do people catch the flu from pigs?
Influenza can be transmitted from pigs in much the same way it is transmitted from people, such as
through breathing in the virus after a pig has coughed or sneezed, or touching a surface it has
contaminated. For example: a pig may cough or sneeze and a person may breathe infected droplets
in the air, or a person may touch their face after touching a surface where a pig has sneezed. This
generally occurs when a person has extended close contact with an infected pig.
It is not possible to catch influenza from eating pork.
Unlike the seasonal flu, this type of virus generally does not spread easily from one person to
Is flu transmitted from pigs more dangerous than the regular flu?
No, flu that is transmitted from a pig to a person does not appear to be more dangerous than the
strains that regularly circulate during flu season.
It is important to remember that flu of any sort can be dangerous and even healthy people can
sometimes become very ill. Anyone who catches the flu at any time of year should be alert and seek
medical attention if they experience serious complications.
What can I do to protect myself?
The best way to protect yourself from the flu–now or during flu season–is to take three commonsense
Wash your hands often, and especially before eating or drinking. Wash your hands with
warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available,usealcoholbased
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. This helps prevent the virus from entering
Avoid contact with people who are sick. This might mean you need to delay a meeting or
avisit, or meet by phone or video instead.
In petting zoos or fair settings, it is especially important to frequently wash your hands and avoid
eating or drinking in areas around pigs and other animals. Always avoid close face-to-face contact
with animals, especially those who appear to be sick.
These are good habits to maintain throughout the year to protect yourself not only from flu but also
from colds and other illnesses.
During flu season, it is also important to get the flu shot.
What should I do if I have the flu?
Stay home. If you get sick with flu symptoms, in most cases, you should stay home and
avoid contact with other people as much as possible. Rest, stay hydrated, and take
temperature-reducing medicines (such as Tylenol or ibuprofen) as needed.
Keep it to yourself. Don’t share the flu. Wash your hands often and use a tissue to cover
your cough or sneeze. Avoid spending time with other people, especially those who are at
risk for serious complications of the flu.
Look out for signs that it may be more serious. In most cases, you do not need medical
care or prescription medicine to recover from the flu. However, some cases can be more
serious. See the symptoms described above for signs that you may need to see a healthcare
If I get sick, should I take Tamiflu or other antiviral medicine?
If you are sick with the flu, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medicine such as Tamiflu to help
reduce symptoms. This is the same for seasonal flu or variant flu. If your doctor prescribes antiviral
medicine, be sure to take it as directed. If you are generally healthy (except for the flu), your doctor
may not prescribe this medicine. Most of the time, people who are generally healthy do not need to
take antiviral medicine for the flu.
Where can I learn more?