Fair officials use caution with pigs (and humans) in Swine Barn

INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana State Board of Health said the Hoosier State is the only place in the country right now where they are seeing cases of H3N2 (which some call swine flu) in pigs and humans.

That’s why extra steps are being taken to keep you and the animals safe at this year’s Indiana State Fair.

The state fair brings country life to the city. Fair officials are taking steps to make sure the experience is a healthy one.

4-H pigs must go through state inspection to make sure they do not have the flu, or H3N2, before being allowed in the Swine Barn.

“Whenever the veterinarian comes out, he checks the temperature all of the time, too, so that’s how we make sure he (pig) doesn’t have the flu,” 4-H member Ryan Hockemeyer said.

That’s what the Indiana State Board of Animal Health is looking for: a pig that has a temperature of 105 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

Pigs with flu-like symptoms are sent home.

“A lot of what we are doing is based off of last year,” Indiana State Board of Health spokeswoman Denise Derrer said. “We saw a lot of influenza virus floating around by the end of fair season. We had quite a few people who had picked up the virus and had also seen a lot of swine, and it actually matched as far as what type of flu it was.”

Officials are also working with experts from The Ohio State University. They are swabbing all of the pig snouts.

"We are working with the Veterinary College of Ohio State University to do some more research to find out what is going on with this particular virus and the environment," Derrer said.

The state is asking everyone to avoid touching the pigs and pens. Also take this advice from a 4-H parent when visiting the Swine Barn.

“I think it’s always important to wash your hands, and make sure you are washing hands before and after,” Trisha Hockemeyer said. “That’s the biggest thing, is just personal hygiene.”

There are a number of food booths right outside of the Swine Barn. It can be a temptation, but fair goers should remember not to take their food into the barn. It can be a health risk due to cross-contamination.

Another tip: If you have small children, avoid taking sippy cups and pacifiers into the Swine Barn in case they are dropped on the floor.

The state is asking any fair goers who feel ill or have flu-like symptoms to avoid the Swine Barn so they don’t make the pigs sick.

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