TIPPECANOE CO., Ind. (WLFI) - At least 120 cases of variant influenza A have been confirmed in 19 Indiana counties and with two cases confirmed in Tippecanoe County health officials are warning everyone to be cautious.
"If you're in contact with animals, do what you would do with normal flu season. Wash your hands frequently and don't eat or drink around the farm animals," Tippecanoe County Health Department Administrator Ron Cripe said.
Cripe said variant influenza A is transmitted from swine to people and people to swine, but not human to human or through eating pork or pork products. Symptoms include coughing, fever, runny nose, nausea, and sometimes diarrhea and last three to eight days. Cripe said this a new strand of virus and vaccines haven't been created yet.
"You know there is no way of protecting yourself, they haven't developed anything and it takes a long time to develop a flu vaccine," Cripe said.
However, Cripe said evidence shows that this particular strand is less severe than other influenza strands in the past.
Purdue associate professor of biological sciences, David Sanders said although evidence shows that variant influenza A hasn't been passed from human to human it's important to remember that viruses are constantly changing.
"We have seen how viruses like that in the past have acquired the ability to be transmitted human to human. The 2009 H1N1 is a perfect example," Sanders said.
Sanders said it is unlikely this particular strand of influenza will develop the ability to be transmitted from human to human, but adds it's best to limit your exposure to people infected with the virus as a precaution.
"I think that, fortunately, it seems to be relatively mild but it's always worth being cautious. Panic is never a good idea, caution is always a good idea," Sanders said.
Cripe and Sanders agree that practicing good hygiene is the best way to protect yourself against variant influenza A especially if you're heading out to any local or state fairs.
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