State Fair Taking Precautions Against Swine Flu
People mixing with infected pigs causes more than 150 cases in the last few weeks
PALMER - A rash of swine flu cases in the Lower 48 has attracted the attention of state health officials. Now they’re on the lookout to make sure it doesn’t happen here. So far the cases seem limited to state fairs in the Midwest.
The Center For Disease Control says people mixing with infected pigs have led to more than 150 cases in just the last few weeks. In every case the disease has been transmitted from animal to human. As of now, there is no evidence of any human to human infections and even those with the flu report only mild symptoms.
Here in Alaska there has never been a case of pigs carrying swine flu at the State Fair or otherwise, and officials are working to keep it that way.
“Right now we are just focusing our attention to make sure that animals are healthy,” said State Veterinarian Robert Gerlach. “We are making sure we have those precautions at the fair to make sure that people don't get exposed to any diseases or problems that can be passed from animals to people.”
Alaska State Fair officials say they are taking precautions by providing more hand washing stations. Fair-goers will also see more signs that spell out the link between animals and germs and how those can be passed.
But perhaps the best way to keep people healthy is to make sure the animals are too. A vet checks animals at the State Fair before they can be exhibited, then checked again on a daily basis.
“They are checked every day,” said Fair Exhibits Manager Pam Meekin. “We have a log book and they go around and do a visual check every day. If there are problems, it's brought to their attention. We have a vet that comes around every day and checks the problems.”
Officials don’t anticipate any problems in Alaska but still plan to play it safe so that everyone can enjoy their visit to the fair.
The State Fair begins in Palmer on August 23 and runs through September 3.