VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - The swine influenza is back! Last year, Indiana had 138 confirmed cases of this disease.
Already this year, 12 cases of swine flu have been confirmed.
At least 10 of those swine flue cases started with county fair animals.
Vigo County's fair opens Sunday. So what's being done to keep people safe in the Wabash Valley?
98 percent. That's how many 4-H'ers took advantage of an early swine flu vaccination in May.
"We got the influenza vaccinations and made those available for all our 4-H families to purchase and vaccinate their animals," said Julie Hart, extension educator.
Hart said they're locking down on the swine flu early this year.
The Indiana State Department of Health says at least 10 out of the 12 people in Indiana got the disease because of exposure at county fairs.
So Hart said they're amping up preventive measures to keep fair-goers safe.
Human swine flu infections most often occur because of close proximity to infected pigs.
First, she wants to educate fair-goers about the swine influenza and how it can be prevented.
But she's also using a more hands-on approach.
"We use Purdue University and access vet students. We have vet students here that check every hog before it comes off of the trailer and into the barn," said Hart.
There's a 72-hour outbreak window before the actual swine influenza infects from one animal to another.
"After their show, we will be releasing half of our hogs and thus reducing the amount of animals in the barn which reduces the amount of influenza spreading from animal to animal," said Hart.
But Hart doesn't want the community to be scared.
"Our general public needs to be aware that swine influenza is a possibility. But we can be safe at fairs," said Hart.
Prevention is the best way to ensure a safe, clean fair experience.
"We want to be prepared in order to keep our 4-H'ers safe, our animals safe and our general public," said Hart.
A simple thing like washing your hands every time you handle an animal, or coming and going from the barns, can make a tremendous difference.
The fair does open Sunday and will be open until July 13.
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