Centers For Disease Control Warns of New Flu Spread Through Pigs - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

Centers For Disease Control Warns of New Flu Spread Through Pigs

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by Brian Wise
NewsWest 9

ODESSA- Flu season is almost here and this year the Center for Disease Control is warning about a new strain. This one involves pigs.

People are catching the bug from swine that are sick from the flu. With fairs being held around the state, people are coming into contact with those animals at places like petting zoos. It's not in Texas yet but it's still difficult to tell when a pig has the flu. Mike Smilie, the operator of the Texan Petting Zoo at the Permian Basin Fair, says that he can't tell.

"I've never been around it so I haven't been around anybody that ever had it," Smilie said.

The strain is not Swine Flu. The pandemic that happened in 2009 was known as H1N1 but this is H3N2. Viruses like these are called variants because they start as influenza in pigs and spread to people.

However, people that caught the new strain of flu weren't anywhere near Texas. Cases of H3N2 started popping up on the eastern side of the United States .  

"I usually had one pig with me. Everybody washed their hands. Everybody is safe," Smilie said.

Even though the pig flu is hundreds of miles away, Smilie knows it's still a good idea to wash your hands. Flu season starts in early October and can stay as late as May. Cities like Midland already have vaccines for people over 65.
 
Celestino Garcia, the Manager of the Midland Health Department, says vaccinations are a peace of mind.

"Flu season is just right around the corner so that we know that vaccination is single to protect yourself and your family. So we encourage everyone to get their vaccinations," Garcia said.

NewsWest 9 tried to contact the Texas State Health Department but they were unable to comment on Monday. However, the media representative said over the phone that he hadn't heard of any cases in the state.