For fair managers, livestock exhibitors, animal health officials, and the public, this is the time of year to prevent such problems as E. coli O157, vesicular stomatitis or any other disease-related issues that may threaten the fun associated with going to the fair.
One way to keep fairs safe is to keep animals healthy. A certificate of veterinary inspection and an Oregon import permit are mandatory for all animals coming in from other states. Fair managers can and should double check the paperwork to ensure each animal is legally cleared to be in Oregon. Animals entering the fair are also routinely checked by on-site veterinarians who will report and treat sick livestock.
The animal-to-human disease issue is E. coli O157, which caused dozens of illnesses at the Lane County Fair in 2002. This year, there will be more handwashing stations to keeping food away from areas where livestock is kept.
Oregon Department of Agriculture reports that:
“At this year’s fairs, look for more signs encouraging people to enjoy the animals safely and to thoroughly wash hands after interacting with animals,” said John McCulley, executive secretary of the Oregon Fairs Association. “Fairs will provide handwashing stations to help fairgoers. However, people attending fairs should not eat or drink in the livestock barns. That goes for the exhibitors too. Small children should be carefully watched around animals so that their hands are washed immediately after visiting the petting zoo or seeing animals in the barns. It’s a good idea to just look at the animals and not touch them. More and more fairs are also using cleansers to disinfect pens and walkways.”
“Animals are one of the most popular attractions at a fair,” he continued. “The advice to Oregonians is simple: Go to the fair, enjoy the animal exhibits, ask questions of those tending the livestock, and use common sense about the need for minimizing exposure to germs. That means following mom’s advice: ‘Always wash your hands.'”