Influenza and county fairs

Recently, there have been several cases of influenza in pigs (H3N2) at the Butler County Fair as well as at the Ohio State Fair. There have also been cases of influenza in people that have been associated with pigs in Butler County. With additional county fairs coming up or going on, Farm Bureau members may encounter questions from exhibitors and consumers.  Here are some informational items to share from Dr. Leah Dorman, veterinarian and Ohio Farm Bureau director of food programs:

•    The Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working collectively to monitor and control the disease.

•    The influenza is not a foodborne illness; pork and pork products are safe to eat. Influenza viruses cannot be transmitted by eating pork or pork products; this is not a food safety issue. As is the case with all meat and poultry, safe handling and cooking practices should be used to kill any germs or bacteria that could make someone sick.

•    As a precaution, people with flu-like symptoms should not interact with swine, and swine showing influenza symptoms should be kept away from the public and brought to the attention of Dr. Tony Forshey, Ohio Department of Agriculture’s state veterinarian. Proper biosecurity measures – as in any influenza situation – will protect against the spread of virus. To contact Forshey, call 614-728-6220.

•    Hogs should be monitored very closely at fairs.

•    Exhibitors and visitors should wash their hands often, refrain from eating or drinking in barns that house hogs at the fair, and limit direct contact with pigs.

•    Individuals should always wash hands with soap and water before and after petting or touching any animal.

•    Influenza viruses such as H3N2 and its variants are not unusual in swine and can be directly transmitted from swine to people and from people to swine in the same way that all viruses can be transmitted between people. However, human to human transmission of this variant influenza strain is uncommon. 

•    As a reminder, hand sanitation stations should be numerous and easily available/accessible for the public’s use in all livestock barns at fairs.


Ohio Department of Agriculture news release regarding the Ohio State Fair.

Ohio Department of Agriculture news release regarding the Butler County Fair.

Additional cases confirmed in Ohio. Aug. 8, 2012 news release





Lynn Snyder 

Lynn Snyder is senior director of communications for Ohio Farm Bureau.

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