Precuations are being taken at the Greatt Frederick Fair.
A lot of agricultural fairs take place across the country during the months of August and September, and officials are urging patrons to be cautious. The US Centers for Disease Control says 12 cases of swine flu were detected last week in Ohio, Indiana and Hawaii. The CDC says each of these individuals who contracted the disease were exposed to pigs at these agricultural shows. No cases of swine flu have been detected in the Washington region.
"All of us within the industry are just going to be on a little bit more awareness schedule to make sure that we're only bringing in healthy animals to our fairs," says Becky Brashear, General Manager of the Great Frederick Fair, which displays pigs as well as cattle, sheep, goats, alpacas, rabbits and chickens.
She says the Fair's staff works with the Maryland Department of Agriculture to make sure all animals which arrive in trucks to the Fairgrounds are thoroughly examined before they're unloaded. to make sure none of them are ill. "And if they are, then we take them to a quarantine area until we can have a veterinarian inspect them more thoroughly," says Brashear.
While the Great Frederick Fair doesn't have a petting zoo per se, Brashear says patrons can touch the animals at the City Streets, Country Roads display. But they are urged to be cautious. "We take a lot of extra steps, precautionary steps, awareness steps to make sure we have hand washing stations available. At a lot of the animal exhibit areas, we have hand sanitizing mechanisms that are available. And yes! We encourage people to wash their hands, or to at least use the hand sanitizers after an animal contact," she says.
The symptoms of swine flu include fever, coughing and sneezing. Those most susceptible to this disease are children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with weak immune systems. They are urged to avoid contact with pigs when visiting any of the fairs this year.
Brashear says patrons who take precautions when visiting the Fair shouldn't have any problems. "All of use are watching this situation very closely, knowing that Ohio and Indiana have kind of been the focus of this latest outbreak," she says. "But I think come September, and the proceeding weeks of fairs here in Maryland, I think everything is going to be fine."
The Great Frederick Fair takes place beginning on Friday, September 14th, and continues through Saturday, September 22nd.