Tippecanoe Co. Fair taking steps to prevent spread of swine flu

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) – After an increase in swine flu over the past couple of years the Tippecanoe County 4-H Fair is taking extra precautions to keep you healthy.

Molly Roberts has been showing pigs in 4-H for seven years.

“It’s the most fun week for me because this is what it’s all been leading up to. Showing them and getting your ribbons,” Roberts said.

All 499 pigs, including Roberts’ two, had to be checked by a veterinarian when they got to the fairground.

“Anything that appears ill or is over 105 degrees is sent home,” swine superintendent Kaila Martin said.

Martin said it was a recommendation that came down from the State Board of Health after an increase in swine flu cases over the past couple of years.

“That’s the main disease that’s communicable to people,” Martin said. “Anyone that walks through the barn, especially the immune compromised like children and older adults could contract the disease from pigs.”

It’s also a concern for 4-H’ers.

“If one pig had it, it would spread really fast across this whole barn so it was a really big concern at that time,” Roberts said.

Martin said , unfortunately, some 4-H’ers could not show their pigs.

“There were eight hogs that were not allowed to unload,” Martin said. “We did send home two sick animals during the fair. Everyone was cooperative and understanding of the situation.”

The steps taken by the fair not only keep people visiting healthy, but also the other animals.

“You want to keep their environment as clean as possible because that’s like the main way they get sick is if you keep it dirty,” Roberts explained.

“I think we’ve taken the best measures by having a veterinarian on board with us at check-in and having her walk through the barn several times throughout the week,” Martin said. “Then us superintendents, I’m a registered veterinary technician, we’re able to pick up on clinical health signs and illness as well.”

So, 4-H’ers like Roberts can keep showing.

“I’ve done it for seven years and I’m doing it for three more until my 10 years is up,” Roberts said.

Martin said even though these animals are healthy you should always wash your hands after petting any of the animals here. It’s also a good idea to not eat and drink around the animals.

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