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Local woman gets influenza linked to swine exposure

A Goodhue County woman is one of three people who contracted an influenza attributed to pigs shown at the Minnesota State Fair.

The unidentified patients are believed to have developed a strain of H1N2 from the swine barn or exhibiting pigs, the Minnesota Department of Health reported. That strain is different from the H3N2v strain that has prompted stepped up surveillance and prevention efforts nationwide.

A teenage girl, elementary school-age boy and the woman, who is in her late 70s, became ill last week. One case has been confirmed as the H1N2 flu, and test results for the other two are pending.

"She had a grandson showing a pig at the state fair and spent extensive time in the swine barn," Vicki Iocco said of the Goodhue County woman.

Iocco is a public health nurse with Goodhue County Health and Human Services.

"The strain of flu that she had is a different swine strain that circulates in pigs and we do see cases in Minnesota -- usually around one or two a year," Iocco said.

The Minnesota Department of Health recommends those at high risk for severe influenza -- such as children, pregnant women, those age 65 or older or individuals with chronic medical conditions -- avoid contact with swine.

The Goodhue county woman had an underlying health condition. She was hospitalized and treated with antiviral drugs. She has been released, state officials said.

The H3N2v strain has caused 289 reported cases of illness and one death since the beginning of the year.

"For the past two weeks, we have been looking very hard for cases of influenza in people who have been exposed to swine," deputy state epidemiologist Richard Danila said in a press release. "It is because of this careful surveillance that these cases have come to our attention."

Anne Jacobson

Anne Jacobson has been editor of the Republican Eagle since December 2003. 

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