Exhibits at 3 Maryland fairs shut down after swine flu cases

Exhibits at three county fairs in Maryland have been closed after 11 pigs were found to be infected with a strain of swine flu at the Great Frederick fair.

The initial results showed the pigs in Frederick were infected with influenza A. It is “not yet known if this strain is potentially transmissible to humans,” officials for the Maryland Department of Agriculture wrote in a statement Sunday.

Officials with the state health and agriculture departments also closed the swine exhibits at the Calvert and St. Mary’s county fairs.

More testing is being done on the pigs in Frederick. The case of the sick pigs is being investigated by the Frederick County Health Department and the Maryland Department of Agriculture and the state’s Department of Health.

It is rare for the swine flu to spread to humans but it is possible, health experts said. Typically, humans who get infections with swine flu have been exposed to infected pigs. That means kids who are handling pigs at agricultural fairs are more likely to catch it.

Symptoms of swine flue in a person can include sore throat, fever and cough. Antiviral drugs can be used to treat it.

The Frederick News Post said an exhibitor at the Frederick County fair noticed a sick pig over the weekend and called a veterinarian. Officials with the Frederick fair were also told of a sick child with flulike symptoms at a nearby hospital. The child’s parents said they had been at the Frederick county fair and around pigs.

“It’s suspicious,” Michael Radebaugh, a Maryland veterinarian told the Frederick News Post. “Very suspicious.”

For the roughly 50 pigs still at the Frederick County Fairgrounds, they are under a quarantine order from the state’s agriculture agency and will not be let go until seven days “after the last pig shows signs of influenza illness,” according to agriculture officials.

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