Swine Flu Detected In Jackson County
During Thursday’s regular COVID-19 press conference, Gov. Jim Justice started with his now regular rundown of the state’s COVID-19 numbers. He quickly moved on to announce that swine flu had been detected in the state.
Two individuals are presumed positive for influenza A H3N2v, a variant of the swine flu, after visiting the swine barn at the Jackson County Fair last week.
State Epidemiologist Shannon McBee said the risk to the public is low, but others who visited the fair’s swine barn should be on the lookout for flu-like symptoms.
“If they are exhibiting flu-like symptoms: fever, cough, sore throat, that they visit their health care providers, especially if they're at high risk for influenza complications,” McBee said. “These are going to be children, individuals who are elderly, or have compromising immune systems or pregnant women, so they see their health care provider and are evaluated to see if they need antivirals.”
The same influenza antiviral drugs used to treat seasonal influenza can be used for treatment of swine flu infection in humans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, early steps to make a vaccine against H3N2v have been taken including the production of a pilot H3N2v vaccine and preliminary clinical studies.
McBee said state health officials are working with the CDC to confirm the presumptive positives and with the Department of Agriculture to confirm infection in the pigs.
Later in the press conference, coronavirus czar Dr. Clay Marsh said that as COVID-19 hospitalizations hover around 350, state medical leaders are keeping a close eye on hospital capacity.
However, he also stressed the importance of preventing infection with vaccination and testing.
“As we watch this, we are both looking at hospital capacity, we are also very keen to look at the age of people that are hospitalized, and try to gain insight into how BA.5 and the severity of the people getting infected is starting to correlate, so that we can try to target a group of older West Virginians who are at higher risk with both targeted information about staying up to date with vaccinations, and being very aggressive about that if they have any new symptoms,” Marsh said.
With 77 percent of people who have died of COVID-19 in the United States being over the age of 65, Marsh stressed the importance for those 50 and older of staying up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines.