Officials watching for signs of mutation in swine flu

Published: Tuesday, August 07, 2012 @ 5:46 PM
Updated: Wednesday, August 08, 2012 @ 7:06 AM

As state and federal health officials monitor county fairs for signs of swine flu, they remind residents that it’s safe to visit the livestock barns, as long as they practice common sense. Their advice:

• Wash your hands frequently with soap and running water before and after exposure to animals.

• Never eat, drink or put things in your mouth in animal areas, and don’t take food or drink into animal areas.

• Young children, pregnant women, people 65 and older and people with weakened immune systems should be extra careful around animals.

• If you have animals – including swine – watch them for signs of illness and call a veterinarian if you suspect they might be sick.

• Avoid close contact with animals that look or act ill, when possible.

• Avoid contact with swine if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms.

Experts from Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County will be available to answer your questions from noon to 1 p.m. duing an online chat at DaytonDailyNews.com. The Dayton Daily News will continue to bring you the latest updates on the swine flu and how it is affecting area people and county fairs.

H3N2v, the strain of swine flu that has sickened 15 people in Ohio, first emerged last year, when it sickened 12 people.

So far this year, it has been reported in Ohio, Indiana and Hawaii. Everyone infected has been in contact with infected swine at state or county fairs. None has required hospitalization so far this year.

Swine flu rarely infects people.

Symptoms from swine flu are the same as those associated with seasonal flu, and include fever, fatigue, body aches, cough and sore throat. Some people also experience nausea and vomiting.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in previous years, they’ve only tracked one or two cases a year of variant swine flu strains infecting people. The viruses rarely mutate to become easily transmitted from person to person.

The Ohio outbreak of swine flu that has sickened 15 people — 14 in Butler County and one in Clark County — is in its early stages but is being closely monitered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Because flu viruses mutate rapidly, the CDC is tracking the H3N2 virus and working with county fair officials across the U.S. as well as state health and agriculture officials this summer to track flu-like symptoms in both humans and swine. If the strain mutates, it could change to make people sicker, or it could become a milder infection. It could also change in a way that makes it more contagious.

The 15 people infected in the region had contact with infected swine at the Butler County Fair and the Ohio State Fair.

The same strain has sickened people Hawaii and Indiana this year. Last year, it infected people in Maine, Pennsylvania, Utah and West Virginia.

So far, none of the people who’ve taken ill have required hospitalization, Bresee said.

Concerns about swine flu shouldn’t stop people from enjoying county fairs this summer, said Dr. Joe Bresee, a medical epidemiologist in the CDC’s influenza division.

He said people should remember to wash their hands frequently and cover their coughs and sneezes.

“It is safe to go to the fair,” Bresee said. “We’re not recommending people don’t go to fairs. We’re just recommending that people do commonsense measures to prevent infection.”

Health officials’ best advice is for fair-goers to wash their hands and use hand sanitizer after visiting livestock barns and to avoid contact with sick pigs, he said.

“Long-term, I think it’s probably the fried Twinkies that will get you,” he said.

Officials with the Champaign County Fair, which closes Friday in Urbana, are in daily contact with the CDC and state health officials, said Tom Tullis, vice president of the fair. They’ve also worked with the Ohio Department of Agriculture to make sure there’s plenty of hand sanitizer in all of the livestock barns and signs up reminding fair-goers to wash their hands and avoid eating in the barns.

“One of our staff veterinarians goes through the buildings three times a day, and anything that has a temperature, he’ll ask the committee to take that animal off the grounds,” Tullis said.

Every year, state veterinarians randomly test swine for signs of infection, he said.

Workers with Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County are working with organizers of the Montgomery County Fair to bring them up to speed on the swine flu outbreak, said health department spokesman Bill Wharton. The fair opens Aug. 29 in Dayton.

Flu viruses are usually species-specific; human flu viruses infect people and swine flu viruses infect pigs. Sometimes, though, a swine influenza A virus can infect people. When flu spreads from pigs to people, it’s believed to spread the same way seasonal flu spreads from person to person. An infected pig might cough or sneeze, and a nearby human could breathe in the virus, or come in contact with a surface the or object the virus has touched, then put their hands to their mouths, nose or eyes.

As flu viruses mutate, they may pick up genes from other flu strains. H3N2v contains a gene from the H1N1 flu strain that caused the 2009-2010 flu pandemic.

So far this summer, the H3N2v flu strain is only spreading from infected pigs to people. Last year, there were a few cases in which the same strain spread from person to person. The CDC is monitoring how the strain is spreading both because it’s a new strain and because summer isn’t the typical season for flu in the Northern Hemisphere.

It’s too soon to say whether the H3N2v flu will spread from person to person this year, he said.

“I think this virus can do that. The question is whether this virus can do it efficiently or not,” he said. “Last year, we didn’t see much person-to-person spread, and we didn’t see ongoing spread that kept the outbreak going.”

Explosives fail to bring down Ohio’s tallest bridge

Published: Sunday, April 30, 2017 @ 9:21 AM
Updated: Sunday, April 30, 2017 @ 12:17 PM


            Traffic reopens after another attempt to demolish the Jeremiah Morrow Bridge. CONTRIBUTED/MARK NEWBERG

A third attempt to demolish the remnants of the state’s tallest bridge failed Sunday so crews will use cranes to dismantle the former Jeremiah Morrow Bridge in Warren County.

Ohio Department of Transportation Press Secretary Matt Bruning said they are finished trying to blow the old bridge down.

“After a demolition blast on Sunday morning, crews will now begin manually dismantling the remaining section of the old Jeremiah Morrow bridge to remove it,” Bruning said. “The next phase of work will begin immediately and is not expected to impact traffic or require additional closures to I-71.”

Last Sunday, four spans were to be imploded.

RELATED: Crews try again to topped old bridge

Two of the spans were successfully imploded, and a third span was demolished when explosive charges were set and detonated a second time.

On the final span, the steel structure heading north and east away from the Little Miami River, only half of the charges detonated on the first try.

MORE: Part of Jeremiah Morrow Bridge imploded

The new $88 million Jeremiah Morrow structures opened last November after six years of construction. They are among Ohio’s longest bridges, spanning nearly 2,300 feet, are the state’s tallest at 239 feet above the Little Miami River and will carry more than 40,000 vehicles daily on Interstate 71.

The new bridges will carry two lanes in each direction across the Little Miami Valley, but have room to add a third lane in the future. Construction on the project first began in the fall of 2010.

The twin spans are named after Jeremiah Morrow, who served as a State Senator, Ohio’s first U.S. Representative, a U.S. Senator and an Ohio Governor between 1803 and 1842.

At least 5 dead, dozens injured as tornadoes hit eastern Texas

Published: Saturday, April 29, 2017 @ 11:01 PM
Updated: Sunday, April 30, 2017 @ 12:22 AM

Tornadoes tracked across parts of Texas on Saturday, leaving behind a swath of damage, injuring dozens of people and killing at least five, according to multiple reports.

>> Read more trending news

Preliminary reports to the National Weather Service in Fort Worth indicated that as many as three tornadoes raked over parts of Henderson, Van Zandt and Rains counties in eastern Texas. Crews will survey the damage Sunday to determine the strength of the twisters.

"We have a lot of injuries," a dispatcher with the Van Zandt County Sheriff's Office told KXAS-TV. The dispatcher added that there was “a lot of damage.”

At least five people were killed in the storms, according to KTVT. None of the victims have been identified.

One person was found dead in a pasture in Canton, the Ben Wheeler Volunteer Fire Department told KTVT. The Canton Fire Department told KXAS-TV that another person was killed along Highway 64 when a tornado threw the person’s vehicle.

Nearly 50 people were taken to hospitals with a variety of injuries after the tornadoes struck, including one with critical injuries.

A dispatcher at the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office told The Associated Press that “officers were chasing numerous injury reports.”

Video from local television stations shows uprooted threes, damaged homes and overturned cars along roadways.

Body found in Grand Canyon likely boy swept away with step-grandmother

Published: Sunday, April 30, 2017 @ 8:26 AM

This undated photo released by the McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 shows Jackson Standefer. On Saturday, April 15, 2017, Standefer, 14, and his step-grandmother, LouAnn Merrell, were swept down a remote creek in Grand Canyon National Park in Grand Canyon National Park. The family is holding out hope that the 62-year-old wife of a popular outdoor footwear company founder has the skills to keep them both alive until they're found, a family member said. (McCallie School, Chattanooga via AP)
McCallie School, Chattanooga via AP/AP

Grand Canyon National Park officials said Friday that a body found is likely that of a 14-year-old hiker who went missing in the park two weeks ago with his step-grandmother.

>> Watch the news report here

According to the New York Post, Jackson Standefer of Chattanooga, Tennessee, was swept away along with LouAnn Merrell when the two were crossing a creek on April 15 and slipped into the water. After a week of intensive searching by land and air and even a motorized inflatable boat, the search was scaled back.

>> Read more trending news

The body was discovered by commercial river trip participants and transported to a medical examiner, the Post reported

Authorities recovered some photographs of Jackson and Merrell from his GoPro camera.

Standefer was an eighth-grade student at The McCallie School, an all-boys boarding institution in Chattanooga. A school spokesman said he was active in outdoors programs, crew team and a Christian youth group.

Merrell, the boy’s step-grandmother, is the wife of Merrell Boot Co. co-founder Randy Merrell and lives in Utah. She is still missing.

Related

Police: Florida man’s fight with girlfriend causes neighborhood power outage

Published: Saturday, April 29, 2017 @ 3:09 PM

Milian
Miami Dade County Sheriff's Office

A man in Hialeah who got into an argument with his girlfriend ended up causing a power outage in the neighborhood, police said. 

The outage happened when Angel Milian, 18, set his girlfriend’s purse on fire and threw it over a gate at his house, WPLG reports.

>> Read more trending news

Florida man accused of killing roommate’s baby 

Firefighters said the purse set a $3,000 palm tree on fire, and the flames spread to a Florida Power & Light electrical box, according to WPLG. 

Hialeah police arrested Milian when the girlfriend showed officers a recorded video of him lighting her purse on fire. He was taken to the county jail and faces a second-degree charge of arson. 

Read more at local10.com.