Capitol dome

The West Virginia Legislature was called into a special session Monday to discuss how to best spend COVID relief funds.

Two probable cases of swine flu have been detected in West Virginia.

Shannon McBee, epidemiologist with the state Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), said during Gov. Jim Justice’s pandemic briefing Thursday two “presumed positive cases” were found, but the threat for the general public is low.

“Anyone who was at the swine barn (at the county fair) and exhibiting flu-like symptoms should go see their health care provider,” she said.”

McBee said children, the elderly, pregnant women and anyone with a compromised immune system are particularly vulnerable and any symptoms should be evaluated.

The concern about swine flu started Friday when the West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) and the DHHR received multiple reports from the Jackson County Fair of swine exhibiting respiratory symptoms and fever.

Samples were collected the same day and submitted to Moorefield Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory, a WVDA animal testing lab. The tests returned presumptive positive results for influenza virus and samples have been forwarded to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, for confirmation.

“It is extremely important to let your healthcare provider know if you or your loved one has had close contact with swine and to be appropriately evaluated if experiencing symptoms such as fever, runny nose, sore throat, cough or congestion,” said Dr. Ayne Amjad, DHHR’s State Health Officer and Bureau of Public Health Commissioner. “These symptoms usually show up 1-3 days after exposure.”

Officials from both agencies encourage state residents to remember to take routine precautions when visiting animal exhibits, including washing hands with soap and water before and after exposure to animals, to not take personal items, food or drinks into swine barns or areas with animals, to avoid close contact with animals that are ill, and to avoid contact with pigs if experiencing influenza-like symptoms.

“The risk is low, but we are on it,” Justice said of the quick reaction of state agencies.

During the briefing, Dr. Clay Marsh, state COVID-19 Czar, once again said “long COVID” is a real concern as the state continues to see new positive cases and hospitalizations remain at almost 350.

Marsh said more than 70 percent of COVID cases in the state are BA.5, the most infectious Omicron variant to date, with long COVID, which presents symptoms well after being infected, continuing to be reported.

The more severe the symptoms from the original infection, the more likely it is to experience long COVID, he said, and it can also affect younger people.

Long COVID symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue, headaches, palpitations, and impairments in mental health and cognition.

The best way to try to avoid it is to be fully vaccinated and boosted, he said, which reduces the chance of developing long COVID 10 percent to 15 percent.

Marsh also said anyone up to date on vaccines is largely protected from severe symptoms of COVID after being infected and “very rarely die” from it.

On another topic, Justice said he would like to see a golf tournament at the Greenbrier with the LIV, a Saudi Arabia-backed new golf league.

Several top-notch PGA golfers have signed on with LIV, but many have criticized the league because of its sponsorship by Saudi Arabia.

“I think bringing the LIV golf tournament to West Virginia would be a really good thing for golf fans and as an economic booster,” he said. “Saudi Arabia has been an ally forever. At the end of the day, Saudi Arabia is our ally and we should be proud of the fact they are just that.”

Justice said his daughter and her husband are involved in talking with the league about a possible tourney at the Greenbrier course.

“I think it would be great,” he said.

— Contact Charles Boothe at

Contact Charles Boothe at

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