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.”

Coroner called to scene of fatal crash in Sidney

Published: Saturday, June 24, 2017 @ 11:30 PM

UPDATE @ 1:02 a.m.

One person is dead following a crash in Sidney Saturday night, according to a release from Sidney police. 

Police and medics were sent to the 900 block of West Court Street after two cars collided at the intersection of Royan Avenue and West Court Street. 

According to the release, multiple people were is both cars and all have been taken to Wilson Memorial Hospital. 

The coroner has been contacted for one person dead at the scene, according to police. 

Crews remain in the area and a traffic reconstructionist is currently investigating.

EARLIER REPORT (June 24)

Crews were called tonight to a report of a serious injury crash in Sidney.

The two-vehicle crash was reported around 11:15 p.m. in the 900 block of West Court Street.

According to initial reports, there were multiple injuries with CPR performed on one person. A crash reconstructionist was called to the scene.

We’re working to learn the severity of injuries, and what led to the crash.

Texas mother left children in hot car to teach them 'lesson,' police say

Published: Saturday, June 24, 2017 @ 7:53 PM

Cynthia Maria Randolph. (Photo: Parker County Sheriff's Office)

A woman from Parker County, Texas, who previously claimed the deaths of her two young children in a hot car in May as an accident, admitted that she left them in the vehicle to teach them “a lesson,” police said.

Cynthia Marie Randolph, 25, told “several variations of the events” during police interviews, and later said she broke the car window to make it look like an accident according to WFAA.

>> Read more trending news

What really happened on May 26, police said, is that Randolph’s 2-year-old daughter refused to get out of the car. The mother responded by shutting the door to teach her “a lesson,” assuming “she could get herself and her brother out of the car when ready.”

Randolph proceeded to go inside the house where she smoked marijuana then fell asleep for two or three hours.

Randolph initially told authorities she was folding laundry and watching TV and realized within an hour that her kids were “gone.” She said they took off. She found them in the car, where they had locked themselves inside. She broke the car window in an attempt to save them, according to CBS Dallas-Fort Worth.

Randolph is being held without bail.

VIDEO: Cruiser rolls away from Miami County deputy during traffic stop

Published: Saturday, June 24, 2017 @ 11:04 PM

An iWitness7 viewer shared a video taken around 11 a.m. Saturday near Troy.

The video shot by Brenden Besecker shows the cruiser of a Miami County Sheriff’s deputy rolling away during a traffic stop on Ohio 718 in Concord Twp. The cruiser traveled backward on the state route and into the intersection with South Dorset Road.

The deputy made a quick run and was able to hop into the moving vehicle and stop the cruiser before it hit anyone or anything.

The Miami County Sheriff’s Office said they were aware of the incident, but we’re still working to learn the deputy’s name and whether he will face any disciplinary action.

Grieving father buries wrong man after coroner error 

Published: Saturday, June 24, 2017 @ 11:55 PM

A California dad got a call on May 6 that no parent ever wants to receive: it was news that his son had passed away. The problem is that just wasn’t the case.

Frank Kerrigan, 82, got a phone call that day from the Orange County coroner saying that his 57-year-old son, also named Frank, had died next to a Verizon store in Fountain Valley.

Kerrigan told the Orange County Register that authorities said his son was identified through fingerprints and that he died from an enlarged heart and fluid in his lungs. The father also said that he only saw the body days before a $20,000 funeral ceremony and burial and that between his grief and what he’d been told by authorities that he believed he was really looking at his son.

>> Read more trending news

 “I took a little look and touched his hair. I didn’t know what my dead son was going to look like,” he said. “When somebody tells me my son is dead, when they have fingerprints, I believe them.”

Kerrigan said that he asked if he had to go down to the coroner’s office to identify his son, but was told that fingerprints had already confirmed who he was.

“If he wasn’t identified by fingerprints I would been there [to identify him] in a heartbeat,” he added.

Six days after getting that call, a funeral and a burial took place for someone who wasn’t actually Kerrigan’s son, a fact that he would learn on another phone 17 days after the whole ordeal began.

A family friend named Bill Shinker, who was a pallbearer at the funeral, called up Kerrigan on May 23 and revealed that Frank Kerrigan the younger was alive.

“Bill put my son on the phone,” Kerrigan said. “He said, ‘Hi Dad.’”

The Kerrigan family is demanding answers as to how this egregious error occurred and they retained legal representation. Attorneys from Easton & Easton, LLP are filing a claim on behalf of the family due to the coroner’s negligence with the allegation attached that the younger Kerrigan was treated differently because he is homeless and mentally ill.

“The people that we put in place to handle things, when they make these kind of mistakes, they have to be held accountable,” W. Douglas Easton said.

Frank Kerrigan’s sister Carol Meikle believes her brother was treated differently because he’s homeless.

“He was not given the dignity and the due-diligence in the process that a normal citizen of Orange County would get,” she said. “We lived through our worst fear. He was dead on the sidewalk. We buried him. Those feelings don’t go away.”

KABC reported that the coroner has not responded for comment The coroner would not comment and the county has six months to respond to the claim.