COLUMBUS – As millions of Ohioans prepare to visit any of Ohio’s 94 county and independent fairs, leaders at the Ohio Departments of Agriculture (ODA) and Health (ODH) want to encourage guests to practice good hygiene when visiting livestock exhibits this summer.
“Ohio’s fairs are wonderful events that promote our state’s next generation of leaders and highlight the strength of food and agriculture as Ohio’s largest industry,” said ODA Director David T. Daniels. “We want to ensure that guests and animals at our fairs stay healthy and it’s so important that patrons follow posted signs and make healthy decisions when visiting the fair.”
Visitors should always wash their 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.
“Simply washing your hands can help ensure your visit to a fair is fun and safe,” said ODH Director Lance Himes. “While not common, some illnesses can be directly transmitted between animals and humans, and fairgoers need to keep that in mind this summer.”
ODA works with fairboards to increase access to hand sanitizers and hand-washing stations and provides educational signage for posting at barns. Frequent hand-washing can lower the risk of getting sick from influenza, salmonella, e. Coli and other illnesses. Ohio’s fair veterinarians are trained to closely monitor fair livestock and poultry for clinical signs of illness.
Exhibitors who believe their animal may be sick should immediately contact their barn manager and fair veterinarian. Fair guests who experience illness should contact a medical professional, and their local health district.