Given the popularity of animal exhibits and petting zoos at county fairs, health officials are reminding the public about the importance of practicing good hygiene. This after an outbreak of swine flu in about a dozen states.
So far, the outbreak has been limited to mid-western states. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls the 162 cases reported as of Friday an extraordinary increase over the 13 swine flu cases confirmed during all of 2011.
Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein points the new variant is transmitted from swine to humans through direct contact.
"So far these cases have not been resulted in sever illness, but again, these viruses are very smart and always mutating," said Dr. Burstein. "It's always better to prevent disease.
While swine flu has not been reported in Western New York, Burstein suggests people should still use common sense after being around animals at fairs and petting zoos.
"Any place where a lot of people are touching the same object or your touching animals it is really important to wash your hands," said Burstein. "You can't wash your hands enough."