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New flu strain acquired through contact with pigs

Here in Minnesota, a new strain of the flu seems to be acquired by visiting fairs that feature pigs.
Here in Minnesota, a new strain of the flu seems to be acquired by visiting fairs that feature pigs.

There's a new flu strain in Minnesota that people acquire through contact with pigs. But you don't necessarily have to cancel your trip to the upcoming State Fair, because this flu is apparently mild.

According to a statement by the Minnesota Department of Health, two cases of the influenza were reported in a preschool-age child and an older sibling from a family here in the Twin Cities. Both children came down with symptoms two days after the family visited a live-animal market in Dakota County about a week and a half ago.

Fortunately, neither of the kids needed hospitalization, and both are recovering. Both were tested for the virus that causes the new flu, but only the younger child tested positive.

In addition to this Minnesota case, more than 200 cases of this flu -- known as variant H3N2 -- have been reported in eight states since the beginning of the year. Most have been found in children who were exhibiting pigs at state or county fairs, or people who visited pig exhibits at fairs.

Still, there's no reason for most people to avoid visiting fairs where pigs are present, health officials say.

The illness tends to be mild -- similar to recent strains of the regular, seasonal flu. Also, hospitalization rates for this flu have been relatively low.

People at high risk for flu complications include: children under five and people age 65 and older, pregnant women, and people with health conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease or neurological problems.


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