If you’re heading to any state fairs this season — the Maine one is going on now — you may want to steer clear of pigs that look under the weather, with a runny nose, sneezing, and watery eyes. A new form of swine flu is circulating, and so far 29 people have become infected with it since last August, often from handling pigs at state fairs, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Maine has had two confirmed cases.
In a conference call with reporters on Friday, CDC officials said 12 new cases of the H3N2 strain were confirmed over the past week. Most of these recent cases were contracted during an Ohio fair. So far, the virus has been mild and doesn’t spread easily from human to human.
To avoid contracting the new swine flu — which the flu vaccine doesn’t protect against — wash your hands after handling farm animals, and don’t eat or drink in barns or pens where animals are located, the CDC recommended. Avoid contact with animals that look sick. Young children, pregnant women, and seniors should be extra vigilant around farm animals because they’re more susceptible to serious complications from the flu.