County fairs take precautions against spread of swine flu

12 cases of swine flu have been reported around the state this summer.
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There's a health alert for thousands of families after reports of people getting sick at Indiana county fairs with the swine flu.

So far, 12 cases have been reported this year in Indiana, most of them occurring after people visited county fairs.

It's hog heaven inside the Lion's Pavilion at the Howard County Fair.

"This morning, we checked in almost 275 head of pigs," said Jordan Foland with the Howard County 4-H.

Before those almost 300 pigs could come through the door, though, each one had their temperature checked.

"Of all 275 hogs, we had no issues. No hogs had a temperature that was too high," explained Foland.

It's Howard County's way of doing its part to make sure the hogs at their fair are healthy and pose little risk of spreading swine flu.

"It's good to have awareness. People can get sick from it," said Tim Durr who was visiting the fair and animals with his family.

You can't get swine flu from eating pork products. It's a respiratory virus that's passed the same way any other flu is spread, through droplet infection.

Howard County also has a vet on site to check any hogs who might show signs of getting sick.

"If you're coming face-to-face with the swine, they're breathing out, you're breathing in. It's a very common mode of transmission," said Tom Duszynski with the Indiana State Department of Health.

That's why Purdue and the state's department of health are getting the word out with signs posted at every county fair, reminding people to wash their hands after touching the animals.

"Have some common sense. Don't eat or drink in the animal barns. Don't pick up food or anything off the floor. Don't have face-to-face contact with the animals. Wash your hands," said Duszynski.

"If people have been sick within the last 24 hours, we ask that they don't come in the barn, just because, because flus can transfer from humans to pigs," explained Foland.

If you do go inside, though, and touch the animals, the Howard County Fair has set up hand washing stations so you can clean up when you're done.

"I encourage people to come by and pet the pigs, because, I mean, it's a good experience for them," said Austin Miller, who is showing his two hogs this year.

It's an experience this year the state is trying to keep as safe as possible for everyone - people and pigs.