Swine influenza, sometimes referred to as swine flu, is a virus that can circulate in the pig population but is generally not fatal and does not affect the meat 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 housing pigs at fairs. Exhibitors and those in close proximity to the animals are considered at highest risk and should follow proper biosecurity practices to protect themselves and their animals. Soap and water are very effective in deactivating/killing the virus.
Swine influenza at county fairs
- As of August 8, 2019, the Michigan State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory had confirmed pigs at three Michigan fairs positive for swine influenza: the Fowlerville Family Fair (three pigs on July 26), Eastern Michigan State Fair (five pigs on July 30) and the Jackson County Fair (10 pigs on August 8).
- Samples were sent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, to determine the type of influenza.
- Both the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and area local health departments were contacted and are managing the situation from the perspective of human health. To date, there have been no reported human cases.
Tips for helping to keep people healthy
- Minimize general public and exhibitor time in the barn with pigs. Consider only allowing foot traffic through one area of the barn. Minimize the physical contact between pigs and people.
- Do not allow any food or beverages in the swine barn.
- Communicate the need to wash hands regularly: entering and leaving barn, after touching animals and before eating. This is important for both exhibitors and fair visitors.
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizers and wipe stations can also be used to disinfect hands after contact with animals.
- 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, we suggest event officials implement preventative strategies at their fair or exhibition that will help to ensure proper biosecurity and hygiene practices are followed.
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.
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.
Published on June 12, 2018
People who come into contact with animals should use good hygiene practices to prevent exposure to influenza viruses.