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Swine flu found at State Fair

MINOT -- Three pigs tested positive of swine flu at the North Dakota State Fair, according to the North Dakota Department of Agriculture.

The state Department of Health and Department of Agriculture confirmed Friday that the pigs carried the H3N2 virus strain, which can be transmitted to humans. The pigs appeared to be healthy when they entered the fairgrounds but became sick while at the fair. After being tested, the pigs were removed by their owners, who are from North Dakota.

The Department of Agriculture inspects all animals displayed at the State Fair, according to a release. This is the first time that an influenza virus has been found in swine at the State Fair.

The pigs have recovered from the incident, state veterinarian Dr. Susan Keller said. The health division is not sure which strain the pigs contracted, she said, adding the virus’s source has been undetermined.

“We don’t know if pigs were the source,” Keller said. “It could have been a human walking in the barn. It could have been transmitted from human to pig.”

There was no evidence that people have become ill as a result of exposure to the three pigs.

It is important that the virus can be transmitted between humans and pigs, Keller said. Strains of swine flu can be transmitted through respiratory droplets created when infected pigs cough, much like when humans transmit the seasonal flu to others. Swine flu has not been proven to be transmissible to people through eating food properly handled for consumption.

People should wash their hands frequently and avoid contact with those that are ill. They should also avoid eating or drinking anything near animals. The health department urges those that who work with pigs to take precautions to avoid the spread of illness.

If you experience flu-like symptoms -- fever, cough, sore throat, body aches or headaches -- after contact with animals, you should report that to your primary health care provider.

For more information about swine flu visit or call 701-328-2378.

April Baumgarten
April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, as the news editor. She works with a team of talented journalists and editors, who strive to give the Grand Forks area the quality news readers deserve to know. Baumgarten grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family continues to raise registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college,  she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as the Dickinson city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.