Animals are always a main part of a fair — both for sale and show — and their health and safety is a big concern. Last year, 72 pigs were quarantined and quickly shipped away for slaughter after one was discovered on the fairgrounds with symptoms of a bacterial disease — a development fair officials hope to avoid this year. (See also: fair safety information)
Dr. John Been, the Sauk County Fair’s head veterinarian, will be at the fairgrounds beginning Wednesday to check all the animals coming in. They are all required to have prior inspections from a veterinarian, but Been said the more precautions, the better. Been says the animals’ health status should be high. Depending on the species, there may or may not be health papers and a certificate of a veterinarian inspection that needs to be in place, and those are done by home farm vets.
Animals are checked for a variety of diseases and conditions, including ringworm, contagious warts, respiratory disease and general illnesses. Been said with all the variety and number of animals, it’s important to make sure all are healthy from the start and stay that way.
Been will personally inspect most of the animals brought into the fair and make sure they are healthy each day they are there.
Last year’s swine erysipelas detection and subsequent mass quarantine was an example of fair organizers being safe instead of sorry, said Been. He said the largest danger is a fair animal becoming infected and returning to its home farm to infect other animals.
Gary Nolden of Sauk County Pork Producers said though vaccinations will take care of most problems, pigs are most susceptible to diseases, especially in confined buildings where they can spread more quickly. He said because of this, most pigs at fairs are sent to slaughter right away, where some cattle may return home because there is less chance they will be bringing a disease back with them.
Some diseases can be spread through the air, or though nose contact or passage of fluids, so Been said it is helpful the fair has enough facilities to avoid overcrowding of animals. While Mad Cow disease has gathered plenty of international attention in recent years, Been said it will not be a worry during the fair.
It’s a non-existent threat in this scenario, according to Been who says it’s spread by eating certain tissues, and that would not happen at the fair. Animals that are slaughtered afterward are inspected by federal meat inspectors, and the U.S. has a terrific public health standard.
Been and his staff will also be on the lookout for other diseases that can be passed to humans, though, including salmonella and cryptosporidium.