State Fair taking precautions to prevent spread of swine flu

With cases of swine flu popping up in adjoining states to the north, officials are taking precautions to prevent the disease from spreading at the Kentucky State Fair‘s Swine Pavilion. The fair starts Thursday. (Photo by Kristin Sherrard, Carrollton News-Democrat: Turner Slaton of Madisonville wins the reserve light crossbred champion ribbon at the Kentucky State Fair in 2009.)

University of Louisville epidemiologist Forrest Arnold has advice for fairgoers:

  • “Stay out of the face of a sick pig.” The flu is transmitted most often via the eyes, nose or mouth, so keeping your face out of a pig’s face is advised.
  • “Wash your hands frequently.” Always a good recommendation to prevent illness, washing your hands is especially important after you have been around pigs.
  • “Be sure your children limit exposure to pigs’ faces and wash their hands immediately after viewing them.” Children especially enjoy the livestock shows at the state fair, so it is important that they follow precautions as well.
  • “Be aware if you are at a greater risk.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn people at high risk of contracting any flu, such as those 65 or older, pregnant or with chronic conditions such as asthma or diabetes, to avoid contact with pigs entirely.
  • “Continue to enjoy eating pork and pork products.” Swine flu is not transmitted by eating pork that has been cooked to a temperature of at least 170 degrees.

The state veterinarian’s staff will be inspecting all swine — between 650 and 675 pigs — and looking for signs of flu, which includes coughing, sneezing and labored breathing. Animals showing symptoms will be evaluated and tested for the disease. Exhibitors coming from out of state must show a certificate of veterinary inspection with 72 hours of arrival, The Courier-Journal reports.

“We are certainly prepared for the slightest sign of any outbreak, and of course, the public will be notified immediately should anything occur,” said Harold Workman, president of the Kentucky State Fair Board.

This year has seen 158 reported cases of swine flu, 130 of which were in 19 counties in Indiana. There have been 30 cases in Ohio and one each in Indiana and Hawaii. The disease is spread by pigs coughing or sneezing in the proximity of humans. Symptoms in humans, which can last from three to eight days, include coughing, fever, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, nausea and diarrhea. (Read more)

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