LITTLE ROCK — Two people in Arkansas have been infected with "swine flu" after coming in contact with pigs, state health officials said Friday.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that the patients contracted a strain of influenza known as H1N1(v), according to the state Department of Health. The strain normally circulates in pigs but can be spread to people in places where people come in close contact with pigs, such as barns and livestock exhibits at fairs.
Both patients have recovered fully from the virus, the symptoms of which are similar to seasonal flu. State health officials said they have found no evidence that the patients spread the virus to any other people.
"A few times a year an animal variant of the influenza virus is identified in humans," Dr. Dirk Haselow, state epidemiologist, said in a news release. "Viruses of this type typically cause only mild illness in those affected and, in contrast to seasonal flu, are not easily transmitted from person to person."
Influenza has not been shown to be contracted through eating properly handled and prepared pork, health officials said.
The Health Department provided the following tips to avoid the spread of illness from animals:
—Wash your hands often with soap and running water, particularly after contact with animals. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
—Never eat, drink or put things in your mouth in areas where animals are present, and don’t take food or drink into areas where animals are housed.
—Never take toys, pacifiers, spill-proof cups, baby bottles, strollers or similar items into areas with animals.
—Avoid close contact with animals that look or act ill.
—Children younger than 5 years, people 65 years and older, pregnant women and people with certain chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or weakened immune or nervous systems are at higher risk for serious complications of infections and should consider avoiding exposure to pigs and other animals at petting zoos and barns during fair season.