Swine influenza, sometimes referred to as swine flu, is a virus that can circulate in the pig population and does not affect pork products. Influenza viruses are classified by the types and further classified by strains. Like people, pigs are susceptible to many strains of flu, and, like people, a full recovery is expected.
Swine influenza is a zoonotic disease and can occasionally be transmitted to humans. Human infection with flu viruses from pigs are most likely to occur when people are in close proximity to infected pigs, such as in pig barns and livestock exhibits at fairs. Exhibitors and those in close proximity to the animals are considered at highest risk and should follow proper biosecurity and good hygiene practices to protect themselves and their animals. Soap and water are very effective in deactivating/killing the virus.
Swine influenza at county fairs
In 2019, three fairs had confirmed cases of swine influenza in pigs and zero confirmed cases in humans.
Cases of swine influenza and suspected swine influenza are managed by a team that includes representatives from Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, area local health departments, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, MSU Extension, and fair personnel.
Tips for helping to keep people healthy
Fair families and the general public attending fairs should practice good personal hygiene while visiting these events. The following are good practices:
- Wash hands regularly: entering and leaving the barn, after touching animals and before eating. This is important for both fair families and fair visitors.
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizers and wipe stations can also be used to disinfect hands after contact with animals
- Do not allow any food or beverages in areas with animals.
- Do not consume food or beverages in areas with animals.
Consideration should be taken to minimize general public and exhibitor time in the barn with pigs when influenza is a concern.
Seek medical care if exhibitors or visitors develop influenza-like symptoms.
Preventative Tips for Fairs & Exhibitions
As an extra precaution to protect exhibitors, the public and pigs at fairs and events, it is suggested that event officials implement preventative strategies at their fair or exhibition that will help to ensure proper biosecurity and hygiene practices are followed. Several resources are available to assist in developing and implementing preventative strategies.
Fair and Event Resources
In order to help the public understand the importance of good hygiene practices, resources and proper signage are available courtesy of MSU Extension and its partners.
For More Information
Published on July 23, 2018
Understanding the difference between seasonal influenza and infection with a variant strain of influenza is important during the summer fair season.