Fair organizers are asked to keep biosecurity awareness in mind during the county fair

When comingling animals at exhibition events, there is a potential for disease spread. Exhibitors and fair organizers should keep biosecurity practices in mind to help prevent potential outbreaks from happening.

A black and white hog.
Observing animals for disease of illness or disease is key when addressing animal health concerns after exhibition.

As fair season peaks in Michigan, fair organizers, parents, exhibitors, and fair veterinarians need to remain vigilant about disease prevention and identification. When animals from different locations comingle, there is always the chance that a disease or illness could be spread among animals and humans. For example, when hogs are brought together at county fairs, there could be an increase in swine influenza or erysipelas outbreaks.

To prevent this, fair organizers should work with the fair veterinarian to observe all animals on exhibit for signs of illness including fever, loss of appetite, depression, diarrhea or respiratory distress. Fair officials should immediately seek the guidance of the fair veterinarian if a sick animal is identified. The fair veterinarian will know proper treatment protocols including when to communicate with the state veterinarian if there is a potential of a reportable or widespread disease.

In particular with swine, organizers should not only be conscious of the normal swine diseases that could occur at the fair, but also of African Swine Fever (ASF), a Foreign Animal Disease (FAD) that has recently been identified in the Dominican Republic. The U.S. does not have any cases of ASF; but due to the proximity of the Dominican Republic, the U.S. has increased the swine industry’s focus on protecting herd health and has increased surveillance at the border along with urging farmers to enhance their biosecurity practices. ASF is a highly contagious and deadly viral disease of pigs. If found in the U.S., it could lead to the immediate closure of export markets. Despite these potential impacts, ASF is not a threat to human health, as it cannot be transmitted from pigs to humans, nor will it impact food for human consumption or become a food safety issue.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, along with Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), Michigan Pork Producers Association, and Michigan State University Extension highly suggest that all pork producers and farmers (commercial, exhibition, hobby, or those with swine as pets) enhance their biosecurity practices to protect the health status of the animals in their care. Fair organizers are urged to remind their participants that proper biosecurity is key to maintaining the health of the animals. Also, when returning home from a fair or exhibition, participants should follow basic biosecurity practices including:

  • Isolation of returning or new animals from animals at the farm
  • Cleaning and disinfecting all equipment and trailers that were used while off the farm
  • Washing all clothing and boots worn off of the farm prior to wearing them on the farm or using different footwear when caring for animals at home
  • Observing your animals for signs of disease once they return home from the fair

Please direct any questions regarding biosecurity practices to Nick Babcock at 517-432-1626 or Beth Ferry at 269-876-2745. For questions regarding animal health issues at the county fair, please contact the fair veterinarian or MDARD at 800-292-3939 (or 517-373-0440 after-hours).

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