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Fair Organizers: We Take Flu Precautions & So Should Fairgoers

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CBS Minnesota (con't)

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) - The Department of Health says there are one confirmed case of the new strain of swine flu in a preschool-aged child, and one possible case in an older sibling.

Doctors think the two children caught the bug after visiting a live-animal market with pigs earlier this month in Dakota County.

Neither had to stay in the hospital, and both are recovering at home.

News of the virus’ arrival comes just three days before the swine barns open to thousands of visitors at the Minnesota State Fair.

There have been more than 200 cases of H3N2v in eight other states this summer.

State public health veterinarian Joni Scheftel says the virus is transmitted directly from pigs. 93 percent of cases are in children, and most of them show their own swine at fairs.

The Department of Health wants to reassure those planning on going to the fair that it’s okay to visit the swine barn, but just take precautions.

“Wash your hands, don’t eat and drink in the animal barns, and if you are a person in those high risk groups, consider not going in the swine barns,” said Scheftel.

High risk groups are those with medical conditions, elderly, youth and pregnant woman.

Scheftel says if you do pet the pigs, washing your hands with soap and water proves more effective than hand sanitizers, which should be considered a good “plan b.”

Jerry Hammer, general manager of the Minnesota State Fair, says precautions are being taken by organizers.

“We leave no stone unturned,” said Hammer.

He also wants everyone to know organizers are on alert as they prepare to open. Hot water hand washing stations are in place, as well as ample notifications.

“We have signs everywhere to remind people to please wash your hands, don’t bring food in,” he said.

An independent agency specializing in consumer health also came to the fairgrounds last week.

“He took a look at everything, and he gave us very high marks. So we’re doing everything we can, and after that it’s up to the people at the fair,” said Hammer.

Symptoms of H3N2v include a fever, cough and sore throat. They say it takes about 2 days for symptoms to appear.

Also, you cannot get the virus, or any kind of flu, by eating animal products.

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