As county fairs get underway across the state, those in charge of livestock are taking extra precautions to make sure they don’t see a repeat of last year’s swine flu outbreak.
So far this year, there have been 12 reported cases of swine flu in Indiana, which is still much lower than last year, when there were 138 cases. But the fair season is still just beginning and county fairs are being cautious.
Many fairs are requiring animals be given specific flu vaccinations. Some are relocating the overnight stay areas, separating the show rooms from the barns, and even limiting the public’s time spent with the animals.
The Vigo County Fairgrounds removed about half of the animals after the show on Tuesday.
“The swine flu is just like any other flu. It is contractible between animals and people,” says Verna White, the Vigo County swine superintendent. ‘We’ve had no issues here, and we do want to keep it that way. We want those folks to keep coming to the fair and enjoying it and not have to worry about things and issues.”
Indiana’s State Epidemiologist Pam Pontones also says people should not be worried. The virus is the same type of flu seen last year, H3N2, so health officials know how to handle it.
She says people can still enjoy their time at the fairgrounds as long as they remember to practice good hygiene such as not eating, drinking or touching your face after touching animals.
“If folks do become ill and they know they have visited an animal exhibit or a fair or something similar, they should really just contact their health care provider and mention that exposure,” she says.
Pontones says that way people get the care they need immediately and limit the spread of the disease.