MERRILL, Wis. (WSAU) -- It’s almost time to go to the fair, but many fairs will have something extra you might not expect... places to wash and sanitize your hands outside the animal barns. The Lincoln County Fair will be one of them.
Public Health Nurse Kristi Krombholz says the State Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection has urged local fairs to follow their guidelines to prevent the spread of the H3N2v virus and other things that can make us sick. “There is a flu strain circulating among pigs, and if people are in contact with pigs, they could potentially get exposed to this virus so we want them to make sure they’re washing their hands so they don’t become infected.”
That virus hasn’t been reported in Wisconsin yet this year, but it did make twenty people around the state sick last year.
Krombholz says the animal handlers had to learn a few different things this year because of the new state guidelines. “They had extra education done this year on proper handling of the pigs, making sure they’re watching them more closely for illness.”
Lincoln County fairgoers will not be allowed to take people food into the animal areas as an added precaution.
Krombholz says there’s nothing to be afraid of and you should enjoy the fairs, but plan on using the sanitation stations. “It’s still safe to go. We don’t recommend not going. It’s certainly just a precaution” adding, “There are no cases of the virus in the state as of this time. It’s just that we want everyone to be safe.”
Along with the sanitation stations, many fairs are roping off the public from the animal washing area, and they’re not letting people camp out with their animals in the barns.
Petting the animals will still be allowed in some cases, but you should wash your hands afterwards.
The Lincoln County Fair starts today and runs through Sunday in Merrill.