FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, AUG. 5, 2009
||Dr. David Marshall, state veterinarian
NCDA&CS Veterinary Division
Biosecurity measures to increase at county fairs
RALEIGH — Hand washing stations have become a fixture at county and state fairs across the state in the past decade to protect fairgoers from animal-borne illnesses such as E.coli. But this year, fairgoers will be asked to wash their hands for another reason — to help protect pigs from a human-borne illness, specifically the novel H1N1 flu currently circulating in the human population.
“I think most fairgoers are familiar with using hand washing stations at a county fair or the State Fair. We want to encourage them to continue to take these precautions to protect themselves and the animals, too,” said State Veterinarian Dr. David Marshall. “The disease has been found in humans and can possibly spread to swine, which could threaten our state’s $1.9 billion pork industry.”
Fairgoers are asked to avoid the fair if they are exhibiting any flu-like symptoms, and especially stay away from any animal exhibits. All fairgoers should practice good hygiene by washing hands before and after entering livestock areas and before eating.
Veterinary officials also recommend that fair managers add a 6-foot barrier around any swine exhibits to further separate humans from animals. Exhibitors should keep a close eye on their swine’s health and contact the show veterinarian if illness is observed. In addition, they should isolate the swine from other animals for at least 10 days when the animals return to the farm.
Marshall also encourages swine exhibitors to vaccinate swine that will be taken to fairs. There is currently no approved swine vaccine specifically for the novel H1N1 virus, but several licensed, commercially available swine influenza vaccines should help provide additional immunity against influenza viruses that may be circulating in both the swine and human populations.
The county fair season runs July through November. To find a list of N.C. fairs, go to www.ncagfairs.org.