Don’t Touch The Pigs: Animal Warning at Local Fairs

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By Autumn Ziemba, Fox 8 News

MEDINA COUNTY, Ohio -- Fair administrators are taking extra precautions after a possible swine flu outbreak sickened fair goers in Butler County.

Pigs are always a popular attraction at the Medina County Fair, but this year administrators are making them a little less accessible, for safety’s sake.

Signs posted on the swine barn at the Medina County Fair read ‘Please do not touch the pigs,’ while hand sanitation stations are in plenty.

"Butler (County) is a long ways away," said president of the swine committee, Dave Simmons. 

Simmons walks the barns daily, along with fair veterinarians. He told Fox 8 that Medina County’s fair pigs have not been co-mingled with those from Butler County, and that none have been reported sick.

But he does know to look for certain symptoms.

"(The Health Department) cautioned us to look for a stressed animal, which, it could have a runny nose, a cough, that sort of thing," Simmons explained.

Annie Phillips, 16, has been showing hogs for nine years, and this year won sixth place with her sow, Stella.

“I'm in (the barn) all day, washing her, rinsing them, rinsing all the pigs really, so I'm not too concerned," Phillips said.

Medina County Fair Board President Chuck Stiver stressed the difference between the Butler County swine flu, which is the H3N2. It is less severe than the more notorious H1N1, and cannot be spread from person to person.

Stiver said there is also no risk of the virus spreading through pork products.

"If I was going to be a hog, I'd want to be a 4-H hog. These pigs are well cared for. These kids work hard all year long on their projects. They pay close attention to them. They almost become more pets that commercial (agriculture) products," Stiver said.

The Cuyahoga County Fair, which opens Monday, August 6, has taken measures to keep fair goers safe.
The fair board released a statement saying it is aware of the safety issues regarding animal exhibits at its upcoming events.
Warning signs will be posted at all animal buildings along with displays containing information about proper prevention methods.
Hand washing stations are located at the entrances to each animal building and all indoor areas.

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