Another case of H3N2 influenza has been confirmed in the Twin Cities, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
The latest case was reported in a man in his 20s from the metro area who purchased a pig at a live animal market in Dakota County on Aug. 17. This is the third H3N2 case to occur in a Minnesota resident who had visited a live animal market, including one confirmed and one probable case involving children.
The health department expects to see more cases of H3N2, but emphasizes that the virus has not become any more infectious.
"Flu should always be regarded as a serious illness," said deputy state epidemiologist Richard Danila. "However, the illness caused by this virus appears to be comparable to regular seasonal flu."
Officials said the recent cases should not be taken as evidence of any unique risk associated with live animal markets, but Danila said any situation where people come in contact with pigs can be a potential source of exposure
"Although people can get the virus from pigs, it isn't easily passed from one person to another, and the illness has not been severe. This latest flu patient did not require hospitalization."
So far, 277 cases of H3N2 influenza have been reported to CDC this year. Since July, only 13 people have been hospitalized and all have since recovered.
The Minnesota Department of Health recommends doctors and nurses ask patients about contact with pigs, and send clinical samples for patients with flu symptoms.
State health and agriculture officials have been working with three live animal markets in the Twin Cities to reduce the risk of becoming infected at one of those facilities.
Health officials emphasized you can't get H3N2 from eating pork and the virus is in no way a food safety issue.
There are also continuing efforts to prevent the spread of H3N2 at the Minnesota State Fair and county fairs. Nationally, most reported human cases of the illness have occurred in young people who were showing pigs at state or local fairs, and who had prolonged, close contact with their animals. Fair officials have stepped-up procedures in place to monitor swine exhibitors for flu symptoms.
People at high risk for flu complications include:
The symptoms of influenza, which tend to come on suddenly, can include a sore throat, coughing, fever, headache, muscle aches and fatigue. People who are at risk for severe illness or become severely ill with flu-like symptoms should see a doctor. Since influenza is caused by a virus, antibiotics are not effective against it.