MIAMI COUNTY — The goal of the Miami County Agricultural Society is to provide a safe, healthy and fun atmosphere for all of its exhibitors and patrons at the annual county fair.
This year, the fair board is emphasizing safety in both the barns and on the midway. The H3N2 strain of flu was detected in breeding gilts and wiped out a season’s worth of hard work in the junior fair barns of Clinton County in July. All the animals in the barn at the time of detection were destroyed. Also in July, two hogs at the Franklin County Fair tested positive for H1N1 influenza and approximately 50 animals were destroyed.
Jackie Winner, chairman of the senior fair board swine committee, said signs have been posted encouraging patrons to wash their hands, abstain from consuming food and drink as well as prohibiting strollers in the barns this year.
“We are trying to educate people. The fair vet will be making daily checks of the barns every morning,” Winner said. “We are really encouraging people to wash their hands and use hand sanitizer each time they go in and out of the barns.”
Swine flu can be transmitted to humans by direct contact with pigs. Symptoms in humans develop about one to three days after exposure to the virus and are similar to other flu strains: cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, watery eyes, body aches, fatigue, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, and sometimes a fever, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Winner said the hog barn has been disinfected before breeding gilts arrive Thursday evening. Before junior fair market barrows arrive Saturday evening, the barns will again be disinfected.
“We will be disinfecting the whole barn between the two groups between the open gilt show and the junior barrows,” Winner said. “If you leave the barn, just be sure to grab some hand sanitizer, leave your stroller outside and if you do want to take the kids, carry them in the barn.”
According the Jill Wright, no food or drinks in the livestock barns will be encouraged in every barn.
“We will have hand sanitation stations available at all the barns,” Wright said.
Signs of influenza in hogs include off feed, lethargic, sneezing, and coughing. Exhibitors should avoid sharing equipment and clean and disinfect it before using. People eating, drinking or sleeping in the barns should be avoided.
The health department will be making its inspections of the grounds each day. State inspectors from the Ohio Department of Agriculture Division of Amusement Ride Safety will also be checking amusement rides each day, every day, of the county fair, Wright said.
The focus on safety of the iconic Ferris wheel and other carnival rides has been in the spotlight in the wake of the Ohio State Fair tragic accident in July. The accident made national headlines after an amusement ride malfunction causing the death of one person and seven injuries. Reports state a corroded mechanical arm likely was the cause of the failure.
Bryce Burton, co-owner of Burton Brother’s Amusements said, Ohio has the strictest standards in the industry when it comes to ride inspections and safety.
Burton said the company has been the ride vendor for the Miami County Fair for approximately eight years.
“The state of Ohio is one of the toughest, if not the toughest, on ride inspections in the United States,” Burton said. “We get inspected once a week, sometimes they’ll stay there a couple days and look at things on the ride before they put the ride in the air.”
For more in-depth information about the amusement ride safety protocol, see Friday’s edition of the Troy Daily News.