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There was an outbreak of flu at the Mid-State Fair. Was a pig responsible?

A pig at the Junior Livestock Auction at the California Mid-State Fair on Saturday, July 29, 2017.
A pig at the Junior Livestock Auction at the California Mid-State Fair on Saturday, July 29, 2017. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Health officials are investigating whether a pig at the California Mid-State Fair was responsible for an outbreak of influenza in San Luis Obispo County.

The county public health department has learned of several people who have tested positive for the influenza virus after having “extended contact with pigs at the Mid-State Fair,” according to a county statement.

The state departments of public health and food and agriculture have been informed of the investigation.

“At this time, the public health department does not have any laboratory confirmation that the cases are linked to pigs,” according to the county. “In each of the laboratory-confirmed local cases of influenza being investigated, patients have recovered on their own within several days.”

Officials said the strain that possibly came from a pig may be different from the strains that typically emerge during flu season, but the treatment method is the same.

Pigs are common carriers of influenza, and occasionally can pass the virus to humans through extended close contact. That includes breathing in the virus when a pig sneezes or coughs or touching a surface that the pig has contaminated. However, the virus cannot be transmitted through consuming pork.

Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue and may also include vomiting and diarrhea, according to the county. Symptoms typically appear within one to four days of exposure and last for two to seven days.

This strain of flu does not generally pass from human to human.

County officials encourage anyone who develops flu-like symptoms who has been in contact with pigs to tell their healthcare provider about it.

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7934, @andrewsheeler

Take flight over the Mid-State Fairgrounds as they prepare for opening day. The festivities start in Paso Robles on Wednesday, July 18.

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