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9 cases of swine flu confirmed in Ohio

– Health officials investigating illnesses linked to a southwest Ohio county fair confirmed a strain of swine flu in nine cases Thursday and said it matches the virus that infected several people recently at an Indiana fair.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed an H3N2 variant flu virus in nine of 10 suspected Ohio cases.

Testing is pending in the 10th case. Symptoms of the virus infection include cough, sore throat, fever, body aches and possible nausea and diarrhea.

The 10 were among as many as 41 people – all but two of them children – who became sick with symptoms like those of swine flu and whose illnesses were linked to the Butler County Fair, which ended last weekend. No hospitalizations have been reported.

Ohio Department of Health spokesman Robert Jennings said it is possible more people may be tested as local health officials gather more information.

Meanwhile, the Indiana State Department of Health has identified a fifth human flu case linked to hogs.

The Indiana agency said Wednesday the fifth case of variant influenza A was found in southern Indiana’s Jackson County after four earlier cases were linked to the LaPorte County Fair in northwestern Indiana.

The flu strain can be directly transmitted between swine and people, and human infections are most likely to occur in people who are near live infected pigs.

The Indiana health department says laboratory tests are pending on possibly more cases.

In 2009, the World Health Organization declared the H1N1 strain of swine flu the first global flu pandemic in 40 years.

Investigation showed the H1N1 was lethal mostly to those with complicating circumstances. It is now considered a seasonal flu and included in the flu vaccine.

People have rarely contracted the flu from pigs in recent years.

Dr. Joe Bresee, an influenza epidemiologist for the CDC, said the agency has confirmed 19 cases of the H3N2 swine flu strain since it first showed up about one year ago.

Among them are the five confirmed cases in Indiana and on in Hawaii.

The summer fair season brings thousands of people into close contact with hogs. Young fair exhibitors often spend hours with their animals, and large numbers of people go through fair barns to see the pigs.

There are nearly 1,500 hogs at the annual Ohio State Fair in Columbus this week.

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