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Swine Flu Concerns Rise As State Fair Draws Near

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — There are some new concerns Wednesday morning regarding a new strain of swine flu that’s already sickened more than 160 people across the country this summer.

It could impact how Minnesotans handle pigs at the Minnesota State Fair, which starts one week from Thursday. The flu strain that made headlines a few years ago was H1N1.

In 2009, scientists at the University of Minnesota tested the pigs here, and now those results are in just before the masses come here to the fairgrounds to visit the livestock. The study found about 20 percent of pigs tested had H1N1.

Scientists also found that healthy looking pigs could carry swine flu, making it more difficult to diagnose the sick animals, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Officials at the Minnesota State Fair will be watching the pigs more closely this year. A spokesperson said the animals will be checked when they get to the fairgrounds. There will be signs posted telling fair-goers what to do to avoid getting sick. Vendors will also be given up-to-date information about how to prevent the spread of the swine flu.

The Center for Disease Control said more than 160 people have recently contracted the new strain of the swine flu at state fairs in other states, mainly in the Midwest. It’s called H3N2v.

It hasn’t been found in Minnesota, but officials said they will be they’ll be watching for it here next week. It is not believed to be as dangerous as H1N1, and there are no reports of any deaths from the new strain.

If you go to the fair, just make sure you wash your hands after being in the barns with pigs, don’t eat while in any of the barns and anyone that has a compromised immune system, like the elderly or pregnant, should take extra precautions.

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