May 31, 2016

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Ohio had most hospitalized swine flu cases

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that more than two-thirds of the people in the U.S. hospitalized after contracting a flu virus spread by swine at county fairs were from Ohio.

The report, released Thursday, showed that 11 of 16 people hospitalized in the U.S. for the H3N2 variant of the influenza A strain this summer were Ohioans.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, as of Sept. 24, 107 Ohioans have come down with the flu, including one from Medina County.

Kristen Hildreth, a spokeswoman for the Medina County Health Department, said the stricken resident was a young woman who did not have to be hospitalized.

Hildreth said the woman had contact with swine, but not at a county fair.

Ohio reported the nation’s only death associated with the flu late last month. The 61-year-old Madison County woman had multiple other underlying medical conditions, but officials said the flu virus may have contributed to her death.

The woman had direct contact with swine at the Ross County fair.

The 10 other Ohioans hospitalized with the strain all were children between the ages of 1 and 12, according to the Centers for Disease Control report. Most of them visited county fairs in late July or early August and were hospitalized for a couple of days before being released.

Nationally, 306 cases of the strain have been reported. Indiana had the most cases, with 138 human infections reported.

In Ohio, the confirmed cases of the flu are between the ages of 6 months and 61 years old, according to Ohio Department of Health officials.

There have been few hospitalizations.

Swine flu does not normally infect humans, but outbreaks have occurred periodically, officials said.

The human variant of swine flu has symptoms similar to ordinary human seasonal influenza, including fever, tiredness, lack of appetite and coughing, officials said. Some people also have reported runny nose, sore throat, eye irritation, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Twenty-five of Ohio’s 88 counties reported cases, with Butler County, in the southwest corner of the state, reporting the most, 17.

The first cases came in late July, when dozens of Butler County fairgoers — almost all children — became sick. Health officials said the disease likely was spread by direct contact with swine at the fair.

The next month, as a precaution, Medina County Fair officials posted signs cautioning visitors not to touch the pigs.

— from staff and wire reports

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