Swine flu spreads to Maryland

Six residents of Queen Anne's County, Maryland, are the latest cases of the H3N2v strain of swine flu that is spreading throughout the country, particularly to people attending agricultural fairs.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 224 overall cases of the swine flu strain so far. Maryland health officials confirmed that the five children and one adult infected in the state came into contact with pigs before contracting the disease, the Baltimore Sun reports.

"We're not telling people not to go to the fairs," state epidemiologist David Blythe said, according to the Baltimore Sun. "None of the people infected here was hospitalized and none had serious complications or illness. And from a national standpoint, we're aware of only eight hospitalizations and no deaths. But we're still concerned, particularly for those at risk for complications, and want people to take precautions."

Health officials are warning people to take such precautions as washing hands frequently, avoid touching their faces, avoid contact with sick people, avoid eating in animal areas and to consider keeping away from pig barns at agricultural fairs.

At risk groups for flu complications include pregnant women, young children and people with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems.

Cases of swine flu have been identified in eight other states in 2012, the Baltimore Sun reports.