County fair season is here and for many, it’s one of their favorite times of the year. Whether it conjures up memories of cotton candy and ferris wheels or purple banners and livestock shows, the last thing you want is to get left out of the fun by a case of influenza.
Pigs may be infected with swine influenza viruses that are different from human flu viruses. Swine flu viruses spread among pigs and – while rare – they can also spread from pigs to people. Because of this, it’s important to take extra precaution to protect yourself and the pigs in the barn.
Influenza can be spread when infected pigs or people cough or sneeze. This can happen in a variety of settings, especially at fairs where pigs from many places come in close contact with each other and with people.
To protect those most likely to get infected and develop serious illness, CDC and 4-H national headquarters recommend exhibitors (and their friends or family) take the following actions to help prevent the spread of flu between pigs and people.
Here are six tips to help prevent the spread of flu between pigs and people.
• If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home to avoid spreading your illness.
• Watch your pigs closely at the fair for illness (loss of appetite, cough or runny nose). Call a veterinarian if you suspect illness.
• 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.
• Don’t take toys, pacifiers, cups, bottles, strollers, or similar items into the pig barn and show arenas. Avoid eating in the barns.
• Isolate your pigs when you return home. Seven days’ downtime at home is necessary for pigs to get over shedding influenza virus.
• Clean and disinfect any equipment brought back home from the show.
More from Farm Journal’s PORK:
5 Things Hog Producers Should Know: Flu at Swine Exhibitions
Simple Precautions Can Help Protect People From Influenza
Good Hygiene Important for Swine Exhibitors and Public
Influenza D: Is it a Risk to Humans?