Ten human cases of Influenza A H3N2v, also known as Swine Flu, were documented a week after the Butler County Fair closed it grounds. As of Aug. 24, 98 cases of swine flu have been confirmed in the state of Ohio. The most cases are in Butler County, with 17.
Tess Pollock, a spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Health, said that the virus was transmitted from direct exposure to the hogs shown at the fair. Given the amount of swine flu cases, Pollock said it will be difficult to estimate when the virus will spread from person to person.
“So far, all cases have been generally mild. However, the one thing we always can predict about swine flu is that it will be unpredictable,” Pollock said.
It’s still unclear as to why more hogs in Butler County spread the virus than in other parts of the state. Miami University medical director Dr. Greg Calkins said the demographical factors of Butler County may have led to the higher number of cases.
“[The virus] was first seen during this warm season in La Porte County, Indiana,” Calkins said. “The counties and states that have had it have basically been agricultural states with livestock raising.”
Dr. Calkins also commented that one of the difficult aspects of identifying cases of swine flu is the standard flu testing. “Most of the flu tests in clinical practices like ours just pick up Influenza A, which is a broader classification. Even with the H1N1 swine flu of three years ago, only samples sent to the state labs were able to tell,” Calkins said.
With record enrollment this year and crowded residence halls, students are concerned about whether their peers will take hygiene seriously. Senior Katie Lindauer was a student at Miami during the winter 2009 outbreak of swine flu.
“It was a much bigger problem in the dorms than anywhere else,” Lindauer said. “So that’s a source of concern because we have a gigantic freshman class this year. Now that most of the buildings have air conditioning, it seems like there’s not going to be a lot of windows opened and an awful lot of recirculated air going around,” Lindauer said.
Butler County hospitals and the Miami University Student Health Center are equipped for the increase in swine flu cases as the weather changes.
“The symptoms haven’t been significantly different from the normal flu. So far, it’s responsive to all the anti-flu medicines,” said Calkins.
For both Miami students and the Butler County community, the best preventive effort against contracting swine flu this season is for people to wash their hands thoroughly.
“That’s the single most effective thing a person can do,” said Calkins.