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Officials warn of new strain

Profile image for By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writer
By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writer

Local health officials are monitoring reports of a new strain of swine flu that has sickened both children and adults visiting county fairs.

“It’s in Indiana and Ohio — it’s on our radar and we do follow the CDC to see where the new cases are,” said Juan Rodriguez, chief epidemiologist with the Denton County Health Department. “It’s not currently here in Texas.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the new strain, H3N2v, appears to be spreading more easily between pigs and humans than previous strains, and officials have been tracing some of the transmissions to contact at county fairs.

Even though the disease has not been found in Texas, people should follow some of the CDC’s common-sense precautions during the North Texas State Fair and Rodeo, which begins Friday in Denton, and the State Fair of Texas next month in Dallas.

“Some are common sense, and some other things [recommendations] are things you wouldn’t think of,” Rodriguez said.

For example, the CDC recommends avoiding close contact with a pig that looks ill and washing your hands after visiting a pig barn. The CDC also recommends not taking food or drink into a pig barn as well as baby strollers or similar items.

Because some people are more at risk of serious complications from getting the flu, the CDC recommends that children younger than 5, adults older than 65, pregnant women and people with chronic illness consider avoiding visiting pig barns at fairs this year.

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PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881. Her e-mail address is .