MONTEREY, CA. (Aug.10, 2018) — The Monterey County Fair is making sure it’s hog heaven for animal lovers by taking all precautions against the so-called “swine flu” at this year’s fair, set for Aug. 30-Sept. 3, 2018, at the Monterey County Fair & Event Center.
Although swine influenza is rare in humans, infections may occur, so organizers of the fair are not taking any chances. Cases most commonly occur in persons having direct contact with infected pigs, so the fair is making sure that infected pigs are not exhibited by taking rigorous inspections of all pigs scheduled to be on exhibit.
The fair takes health and safety concerns seriously, including adhering to new 4-H nationwide standards, participants exhibiting animals have to undergo “Youth for the Quality Care of Animals” quality assurance training.
“Every year we see a few cases nationwide of swine flu, in humans,” said Brian Hartl, a Michigan epidemiologist. “It’s common in swine, pigs, but when it jumps to humans, that’s a rare occurrence.”
Currently there are no restrictions for showing healthy swine at the fair, but exhibitors are advised that swine with signs of respiratory illness, including nasal discharge or coughing, should not be taken to the fair.
To prevent flu viruses from spreading between people and pigs, the fair is stressing the importance of people working with pigs to follow proper biosecurity, hygiene and health management practices, including limiting contact between animals, clean and disinfecting equipment between use, and washing hands before and after working with animals.
Other procedures the fair is advising exhibitors to implement include good biosecurity practices, such as quarantining new pigs before placing in the general pig population, limiting visitors and traffic on the premises, and properly cleaning and disinfecting vehicles and equipment.
In addition, the swine influenza virus is readily inactivated by disinfectants and seasonal human influenza vaccines may provide partial protection against some, but not all, strains of swine influenza.
The fair is recommending that anyone at high risk of serious flu complications planning to attend the fair should avoid pigs and swine barns at the fair. People who are at high risk for serious complications from flu, including variant flu viruses like the swine influenza, include children younger than 5 years, people with certain long-term health conditions like asthma and other lung diseases, diabetes, heart disease, weakened immune systems, neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions, as well as pregnant women and people 65 years and older. (More info at: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/ about/disease/highrisk.htm)
If you’d like to see the pigs on exhibit and don’t fall into the above high-risk category, the fair suggests taking the following preventive actions:
- Don’t eat or drink or put anything in your mouth in the pig barn and show arena.
- Don’t take toys, pacifiers, cups, bottles, strollers, or similar items into the pig barn and show arenas.
- Wash your hands often with soap and running water before and after exposure to pigs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home to avoid spreading your illness.
Swine influenza is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that regularly cause outbreaks in pigs. Influenza viruses that commonly circulate in swine are called “swine influenza viruses” or “swine flu viruses.” Like human influenza viruses, there are different subtypes and strains of swine influenza viruses.
When the virus spreads from pigs to people, these viruses are called variant viruses and are designated with the letter “v” after the virus subtype. Human infections with H1N1v, H3N2v and H1N2v viruses have been detected in the United States.
More information on the swine influenza can be found in these fact sheets distributed by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA):
The Fair will be held Aug. 30-Sept. 3, 2018, at the Monterey County Fair & Event Center, 2004 Fairground Road in Monterey. The Fair’s theme this year is “Shake Your Tail Feathers.”