MINNESOTA & WEST VIRGINIA report two new cases of SWINE FLU ~ Two HORSES in Lake County, FLORIDA, die of EASTERN EQUINE ENCEPHALITIS.

Tamworth hog. Photo by Caroline Ford. Wikimedia Commons.

National 12/09/11 go.com: by Kim Carollo – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced two cases of flu caused by two new viruses associated with swine. The illnesses affected children in West Virginia and Minnesota, who both eventually recovered. The virus found in West Virginia, known as H3N2, has a mixture of genes from swine, human and bird flu viruses. There have been 10 other cases of infection with this virus across the country in previous years. The child in Minnesota became ill with a form of the virus called H1N2, also found in swine. It’s only the second known case of infection with this virus in the U.S. In both current cases, there was no contact with any swine, meaning the virus was transmitted from person to person. The virus has not spread to other humans, CDC reported.

The number of humans infected by viruses previously found only in swine has increased over the past couple of years, and the agency says that could be due to better identification of virus strains, more monitoring of flu cases, or an actual increase in the number of cases either from direct or close contact with swine or as a result of person-to-person transmission. While CDC does recommend that people get a flu shot, the shot will not protect against viruses found in swine. There are two antivirals — oseltamivir and zanamivir — that are effective against illnesses caused by these viruses. In addition, people should not eat pork products that are not properly cooked or handled.

Florida 12/10/11 dailycommercial.com: Lake County residents are being advised to limit their exposure to mosquitoes after two horses in the Groveland area died from complications of the Eastern equine encephalitis virus. Neither of the horses had received EEE vaccinations, the Lake County Health Department said in a news release. They are the first reported equine deaths from EEE in the county this year. EEE is caused by a virus transmitted by mosquitoes and can infect humans. The risk of transmission to humans has been increased, the department said. Florida averages more than 70 reported cases of EEE each year, and the virus is a concern in horse communities like Lake County. The disease is transmitted to horses, and sometimes humans, by mosquitoes that have become infected after feeding on birds, which circulate the virus. The virus is not transmitted directly from an infected horse to other horses or people. Among the precautions: drain standing water to stop mosquitoes from multiplying; cover doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out; and cover skin with clothing or repellent. The Health Department also recommends that horse and livestock owners contact veterinarians about vaccinations against mosquito-borne diseases. Residents are encouraged to report dead birds at www.myfwc.com/bird. For more information, go to http://www.doh.state.fl.us/environment/medicine/arboviral/index.html or call the Lake County Health Department at 352-253-6130.

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