It is the height of the county fair and livestock show season around the state; thousands of 4-H and Jr. show youth are loading up animals and hitting the road. This means biosecurity precautions need to be in place to keep animals safe and disease free. Bethany Funnell, Purdue Extension specialist, says prevention is the key, “The little things we do to prevent transmission and set our animal up to combat it and get better quicker is all a step in the right direction.”
No matter how good your precautions are and how much you prepare, chances are there will be issues. Funnell says we should be prepared, “We can’t prevent it all; we will have sick animals. We will have animals come together and bring a disease home. Being prepared and knowing it is going to happen is half the battle.” Different counties have different regulations on livestock animals, so knowing what the rules are for your county or livestock show is important.
Funnell says vaccinations should be part of your biosecurity routine, “When you bring animals into that co-mingled situation where animals from different farms are all coming together, by vaccinating your animals before fair time will strengthen their immune system and help them fight off any of those pathogens.” She added vaccines can also help animals recover quicker if they do become sick. Funnel recommended having a separate area on the farm where animals and equipment used at the fair or show can be decontaminated before rejoining the rest of the farm.
Animals are not the only ones who need to be protected from disease at the fair. Spectators who walk the barns are also at risk. A case of H3N2 variant influenza was reported in Indiana on Monday, the first reported in the state since 2013. An Indiana resident became ill after exposure to pigs during a county fair which has since ended. The Indiana State Department of Health and the Indiana State Board of Animal Health are urging Hoosiers to take precautions when visiting events, such as fairs, where pigs are exhibited. Most fairs have hand washing stations at the exits of the livestock barns; visitors are urged to use them to minimize exposure to others and to help prevent the movement of diseases from barn to barn.