A third case of swine flu in the US this year was confirmed in an unnamed patient who had recently been in contact with pigs at a fair.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the latest infection on Friday in a tweet, and later told DailyMail.com that the infection occurred in a minor who visited a fair in Montana last month.
Swine flu, or H1N1, rarely spreads from animal to person, but the infamous 2009 outbreak was the product of the virus mutating to become capable of getting humans sick.
People can catch swine flu from contact with infected pigs directly though it is relatively uncommon. The strains that infect humans are often chimeric blends of avian, swine, and human flu viruses.
The symptoms of swine flu are similar to those of other influenza viruses and include fever, aches, chills, cough, headache, nausea, and fatigue. But cases are normally mild and clear up on their own in a few weeks with little risk of death.
The patient contracted the virus at an agricultural fair last month, where they were exposed to infected pigs
The driver of the 2009 swine flu epidemic was a strain of H1N1 that had combined bird, swine, and human influenza A viruses.
The outbreak disproportionately affected children and teens who were more susceptible to illness so severe it required hospitalization.
A report from the World Health Organization found that in 2009, the number of infections in the US reached 59 million with 265,000 hospitalized and 12,000 dead.
The latest case of three this year is concerning as it opens the door to possible transmission from human to human.
A CDC spokesperson told DailyMail.com that the patient was under 18, ‘sought health care during the week ending August 5, 2023 (week 31), and has not been hospitalized.
They added: ‘An investigation by local public health officials found that prior to their illness onset the patient attended an agricultural fair. The investigation is currently ongoing.’
But the speed at which H1N1 cases have been cropping up this year pales in comparison to the rapidly escalating 2009 crisis, which snowballed into a global health concern within about four weeks of the strain first being discovered in Mexico.
The most recent cases of swine flu were reported in Michigan where two unrelated people caught different strains at separate fairs in July, where they were exposed to infected pigs.
Both of them experienced mild illness and fully recovered with no evidence that they transmitted the infections to others.
Details in the latest case are scarce, but the CDC made several recommendations for other people to avoid potential infection if they find themselves at an agricultural fair.
They include avoiding pigs if a person is already prone to severe illness, do not take food or drink into areas with pigs, was hands before and after contact, and watch your pig (if you have one) for illness.
Swine flu infection from pigs to humans is relatively rare and those with direct contact with pigs regularly, such as farmers and slaughterhouse workers, are most at risk of direct ‘zoonotic’ transmission.
Typically, a virus like H1N1 which encompasses various strains can become mutated with genetic material from other influenza viruses to make a chimeric version capable of infecting humans.
For instance, the strain that caused the 2009 outbreak was dubbed the H1N1pdm09 influenza virus.