Preventative Tips for Fairs & Exhibitions

Swine influenza at 2016 Michigan county fairs

Information as of August 11, 2016.

  • Swine influenza H3N2 has been confirmed at three Michigan fairs: Muskegon County Fair, Ingham County Fair and Cass County Fair.
  • Both the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and area local health departments have been contacted and are managing the situation from the perspective of human health.

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.

Tips for helping to keep pigs healthy

  • Observe pigs closely when they arrive at the fair. Immediately move sick pigs off-site and isolate them from other animals on the fairgrounds.
  • Sprinkle a few drops of cool water at the base of the animal’s head or the shoulder every 15 to 20 minutes during the heat of the day. This will allow for evaporation and cooling to occur.
  • The influenza virus incubation time is one to four days; sending pigs to processing as early as possible will reduce the likelihood of clinical illness and spread of virus from pigs to people as well as pigs to pigs.
  • Monitor feed/water consumption. When pigs are off feed or depressed, it may be a sign that they are becoming ill.
  • Normal temperature for a pig is 101.5 – 103.5 degrees F, if the temperature is equal to or greater than 105 degrees report to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development at 800-292-3939.
  • Notify your fair veterinarian and your swine superintendent if pigs have: fever, gone off feed, nasal discharge, inactivity/huddling, high respiration or heart rate, sneezing, or coughing (barking).
  • Stress can increase the risk of illness in hogs. In hot weather, it is important to reduce the stress on pigs as much as possible. Keep pigs cool, hydrated and consider shortening the time pigs are at the fair.
  • Additional ways to decrease stress include auctioning pigs without running them through the sale ring - instead have the seller only in the ring. You may also consider moving the sale or show time to a cooler part of the day.

Reminder: pigs with fevers should not be sent to processing, however, once fever has passed they may enter the food chain.

Transporting pigs to the fair

  • Transportation is a stressful time for pigs during periods of heat. Avoid moving pigs during the heat of the day, and allow more time to load pigs.
  • Remove feed from pigs for 12 hours before shipment (remove feed, but not water).
  • Provide additional time when loading pigs.
  • Load fewer pigs to allow maximum air movement. Open all vents and slats.
  • Keep vehicles in constant motion. Do not stop during the heat of the day. Avoid rest or truck stops that other exhibitors or swine transporters are using.

Biosecurity tips for exhibitors at fairs 

  • Have an exhibitor meeting(s) at the start of your event (see exhibitor meeting agenda). Communicate the need to use proper hygiene and practice good biosecurity, how to contact the fair veterinarian and what the symptoms of influenza are that they should be on alert for when caring for animals.
  • If space allows, avoid nose-to-nose contact between pig from different families using an open space or solid penning.
  • Have an isolation area, removed from fair (public) traffic available to house and monitor sick or symptomatic animals.
  • Scale(s) and sorting boards are high risk for influenza transfer between commingled pigs. Disinfect scales and sorting boards frequently, ideally between pig from different families or every six to eight pigs handled.
    • A 1:10 bleach:water mixture minimizes the spread of the disease. Use bleach in combination with a detergent (dish or laundry soap) to increase effectiveness.
  • Wash area(s) should also be disinfected at least once each day and make sure it has time to thoroughly dry after being disinfected.
  • Consider providing a disinfection area and supplies for exhibitors to clean their equipment before it goes home.

Food safety

  • You cannot get influenza from eating pork or handling pork products.
  • As with all meat, pork is safe to eat when proper cooking procedures are followed and meat reaches the appropriate internal cooking temperature. USDA recommends cooking pork roasts, steaks and chops to 145 degrees Fahrenheit with a three-minute rest time before carving or consuming. Ground pork patties and ground pork mixtures should be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Also cook all organ and variety meats (such as heart, kidney, liver, tongue and chitterlings) to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

A printable version of these preventative tips is available for your convenience.