COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Aug. 31 confirmed the first known H3N2v-associated death — a 61-year-old female Madison County resident who died earlier this week.
Testing at the Ohio Department of Health Laboratory confirmed that the individual had been infected with the H3N2v influenza virus. The individual had direct contact with swine at the Ross County fair before becoming ill.
According to the state health department, the patient had multiple other underlying medical conditions, but the influenza virus may have contributed to the death.
“H3N2v, like many other viruses, has the greatest potential to impact those with weakened immune systems,” said Dr. Ted Wymyslo, director of the Ohio Department of Health. “It is important for those at-risk individuals to take extra precautions like avoiding swine exhibits to protect themselves.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the main risk factor for infection is direct exposure to swine.
The CDC says the virus does not spread easily from person-to-person, but limited human-to-human infection has occurred.
Ohio is currently reporting 102 cases of H3N2v statewide. Those with confirmed cases of H3N2v are between the ages of 6 months and 61 years old.
Most ill individuals have recovered on their own or were treated and released after a short stay in the hospital.
At this time, surveillance indicates that the individuals most likely became ill with the flu virus after exposure to swine.
At-risk individuals (children younger than 5 years old, people 65 years and older, pregnant women, and people with certain chronic conditions such as asthma and other lung diseases, diabetes, heart disease, weakened immune system, and neurologic or neurodevelopmental disorders) should avoid exposure to pigs and swine barns during this fair season.