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Friday, August 2, 2019

State Fair Nightmares

August is a bitter sweet month.  We have jokingly been telling my son he only has 30 days until school starts.  It’s fun to bug him, but then you realize that August has arrived and summer vacation is quite literally a month away from being over!  While summer may be drawing to a close, August marks another change in season – City or State Fair season! 

I’ve always loved a good summer or fall fair.   As a country kid, I could be found showing horses and cows and not to brag or anything, I may have won a ribbon or two for my beloved Belgium belted rabbit, Mr. Boots or my white and ginger guinea pig Sparky.  For those that may be looking for an event that can pair education with cotton candy, funnel cakes and fried food, there are a few things to consider to ensure you keep yourself, your family and your animals safe.

Case in point, 1 child has died and 3 others were sickened by E. coli after coming into contact with animals at the San Diego County Fair.  The source of E. coil has not been confirmed but the children all visited the animal areas or the petting zoo.  As a result of the infections, public access to animal areas was closed including the petting zoo.  While this is just one example, between 1996 to 2012 about 200 outbreaks involving animals in public settings were reported to the CDC.  The National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV) has put together a number of recommendations as a way to minimize outbreaks, infections and deaths:

1.       Contact with animals should only occur in settings where measures are in place to reduce potential for spread of disease (e.g. access to hand washing stations).
2.       Disseminate educational and training materials to venue operators (e.g. infection control training and guidelines).
3.       Sample collection to ensure that animals do not carry pathogens that can transmit to humans.
4.       Information on facility design to reduce potential for contact with manure.
5.       Avoid contact with pre-weaned calves, reptiles, amphibians and live poultry for children under the age of 5.
6.       Signage to clearly communicate the importance of hand hygiene.
7.       Do not provide animal feed in containers that can be eaten by children (e.g. ice cream cones).
8.       Disinfect the area, at least once per day.

Being a farm girl, I am a proponent of people-animal interactions and not just the cute baby animals, but all animals, as learning where our food comes from and how farmers raise animals is important.  Farm fairs are also a time where farmers get to show off their prized animals.  To some, it may seem strange or boring to watch a ring full of cows or pigs, but let me tell you, winning can increase the worth of the animal and their future offspring.  If you don’t believe me google “Missy, the million dollar Holstein” or “Deveronvale Perfection”, a sheep that sold for $376, 691.

I hope you’ll search your area for a State or City Fair.  It’s a great day of entertainment and education, but just remember to wash your hands after touching the animals!

Bugging Off!


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