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Use good hygiene with livestock during fair season

As Ohio’s 2013 agricultural fair season kicks off, the Ohio Departments of Health (ODH) and Agriculture (ODA) are reminding Ohioans to practice good hygiene when visiting livestock exhibits this summer.

“With fair season upon us, we want to remind folks that some illnesses, such as influenza viruses, are commonly carried by livestock and can be directly transmitted between animals and humans in the same way those illnesses are often transmitted between people,” said ODH Director Dr. Ted Wymyslo.

Individuals should always wash hands with soap and water before and after petting or touching any animal. Never eat, drink, or put anything in your mouth in animal areas. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to leave strollers outside the animal exhibits and carry small children. Older adults, pregnant women, young children, and people with weakened immune systems should consider avoiding animal areas.

“For some, visiting the barns at the local fair is one of the most important ways to teach young people about where their food comes from. By taking some common-sense precautions, we can ensure that visiting your local agricultural fair remains a fun, safe, and wholesome educational activity for your family,” said ODA Director David T. Daniels.

ODA has worked closely with fair boards, youth organizations and fair veterinarians to increase access to hand sanitizers and hand washing stations. Frequent hand washing can lower your risk of getting sick from influenza, salmonella, E. Coli and other infections. In addition, ODA has also encouraged fair organizers to post reminders about good hygiene in animal areas to help protect the health of fair goers this year.

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