Illinois State Fair exhibitors and visitors are being reminded to wash their hands, especially around pigs and other livestock, and to practice good hygiene.
Last week, the Illinois Department of Public Health confirmed one case of a new flu strain (H3N2v) in a Coles County child. The boy was not hospitalized.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is conducting additional laboratory tests. Local, state, and federal health officials were trying to determine how the child, who attended the Coles County Fair, caught the virus.
Across the State Fairgrounds, extra precautions were being taken at livestock education exhibits and in livestock barns.
At the new swine birthing center located near Farmer’s Little Helper, the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA) added hand washing stations at the entrance and the exit and posted signs with health tips.
“We just want to be cautious,” said IPPA’s Mike Borgic. “We’re taking precautions not only to keep people safe and healthy, but also to keep the sows healthy.”
The six sows in the center were tested for flu-like symptoms, Borgic said. They were deemed healthy.
This year visitors may look at the animals, but not touch them, he added. And volunteers in the center won’t hold any little pigs as they have in the past.
Near the grandstand, FFA members also are taking precautions in the Illinois FFA Association’s petting barn. Hand sanitizers are located near the entrance, and health and safety tips are posted, said Frank Dry, the association’s executive secretary.
In the livestock barns, the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) distributed health and safety information to exhibitors. Posters with similar advice were displayed in the barns. Additional hand washing stations were prominent in the barns and around the grounds.
All animals shown on the grounds have health certificates, said Jim Kunkle, manager of emergency programs for IDOA. In addition, a veterinarian is located on the grounds.
State officials’ additional precautions follow on the heels of an flu outbreak in Indiana where more than 100 H3N2v cases were confirmed last week. The Indiana State Fair sent hogs home early after six pigs developed high fevers.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: