State fair officials take precaution to avoid swine flu outbreakby Jon Collins, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — There haven't been any reported cases in Minnesota yet, but more than 150 people nationwide have already gotten sick this summer with the newest strain of swine flu. It was mostly spread from county fairs in Indiana and Ohio.
With the Minnesota State Fair starting next week, the fair's official veterinarian, Dr. Tom Hagerty, told MPR's All Things Considered that the state fair is taking precautions to avoid an outbreak of swine flu here.
All animals will be inspected when they arrive at the fair, but they won't be tested for the flu, he said. Fair veterinarians will also step up surveillance of pigs.
"Normally we circulate in the swine barn twice a day. Now we'll be in there four or five times a day and we'll be in there for prolonged periods of time," Hagerty said, "primarily listening for the sounds that we hear: barking, sneezing, coughing."
The state fair has had hand-washing stations in most animal barns for about five years, he said.
"There's going to be increased signage, making people aware that they should not be taking food into the barns, and [to] keep their hands away from their eyes and mouth," Hagerty said.
There was an outbreak of swine flu at the Minnesota State Fair in 2009. A recent study found that 19 percent of pigs tested at the fair that year were infected with swine flu. If there is a similar outbreak this year, the fair will close the barn to the public, Hagerty said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said this strain of swine flu is mild and doesn't easily spread between humans.