With summer fair season swinging into full gear, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is working to keep families safe from swine flu.

Last year, there 17 people across 6 states who were affected by swine influenza. Three of those cases occurred in Michigan, with 2 being linked to the Fowlerville Fair. This year’s fair runs from July 22nd through the 27th, and state health officials are offering help to make certain everyone has a good time and stays healthy. The swine flu virus is believed to be spread in the way that human flu viruses spread, mainly through droplets when infected pigs cough or sneeze on an individual. Swine flu can not be contracted from eating properly prepared pork or handling pork products. Symptoms are similar to that of the human flu, and can include fever, sore throat, a cough, body aches, and vomiting.

To keep safe, health officials advise that individuals who are high risk of serious flu complications, like young children, the elderly, and pregnant women avoid swine barns and pigs. Swine flu can potentially cause pneumonia, and in rare cases, death. Residents should also refrain from eating or drinking in livestock barns. Do not take toys, pacifiers, baby bottles or strollers in pig areas. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth around the pigs. Also, wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol based sanitizer if washing isn’t possible.

People who suspect they may have contracted the virus should contact their doctor as soon as possible, and then the local health department. (Photo- Facebook) (MK)