Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

Local News

July 5, 2013

Good hygiene vital at county fairs

Thousands of visitors will flock to 4-H fairs during July in more than 80 Indiana counties. But those who want to pick up their favorite fair food and head to the livestock barns should remember safe practices for their health – and for the health of animals.

Animals have bacteria and germs that can make people sick. Fair-goers can minimize the risk by limiting contact with animals and visits to barns, and also practicing good personal hygiene, said Angie Abbott, Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service assistant director and CES College of Health and Human Sciences program leader.

“One of the easiest – and most important – precautions we can all take to avoid spreading germs at county fairs is to wash our hands often and with soap,” Abbott advised.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises the following when attending fairs:

• Locate hand-washing stations and wash your hands with soap and running water often, including after going on a ride, before eating and drinking, after removing soiled clothes and especially after petting an animal or touching any part of an animal’s pen.

• Don’t take food or drinks into animal areas.

• Don’t take toys, pacifiers, cups, baby bottles or strollers into livestock barns. Bacteria and viruses can be transferred from animals to people on these objects.

• People who have been sick, who have a high risk of complications from the flu, who are pregnant or who have chronic health issues, should avoid contact with livestock, particularly swine.

Pigs can be infected with influenza strains that occur in different species, said Stephen B. Hooser, professor of veterinary medicine and director of the Indiana Animal Disease and Diagnostic Laboratory, based at Purdue. They can get the flu from other pigs, humans and birds.

A new variant strain of influenza A, H3N2v, was confirmed in Indiana and several other states last summer. This swine flu virus may pass between people and swine easier than other strains. In addition to people getting it from pigs, people infected with it can pass the virus along to pigs.

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