The season of outdoor festivals and state fairs is upon us, complete with petting zoos and areas where children can interact with livestock. However, it might be a good idea to keep some extra hand sanitizer available while making those visits to the pig pen. Last week health officials in several Midwestern states reported a five-fold increase in cases of a new strain of swine flu that spreads from pigs to people.
Experts reiterated, though, that this flu has mild symptoms and does not typically spread from person to person. While two of the cases have been hospitalized, the strain is still not believed to be serious. Most of the victims were children, who tend to have weaker immune systems.
Dr. Joseph Bresee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Associated Press that the case count jumped from 29 a week ago to 158 this week, due to new illness reports in Indiana and Ohio. Specifically, the recent cases were 113 in Indiana, 30 in Ohio, one in Hawaii and one in Illinois.
"This is not a pandemic situation," Bresee underlined in a conference call interview.
Health officials said that they don't think it's necessary to cancel any swine shows, they just urged visitors to take precautions and wash their hands regularly.
Even if officials don't declare a pandemic, it's still a good idea for any company or organization to ensure that a current business continuity plan is in place that will dictate how things are run if multiple employees need to take sick days. Extended periods of absence can have a negative effect on an enterprise if the workers who remain are not properly prepared to handle an unexpected influx of work.