SALEM, OHIO – Does fair season pose any special risk for livestock and livestock producers in this year of concern over the possibility of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease?
Fair and expo officials from the World Dairy Expo to the county fair level have been thinking about it since the outbreak in Europe started in late February, but there isn’t any unified response.
According to Marjorie Stieve with World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis., the North American dairy cattle show has always had international visitors coming from foot-and-mouth active countries.
Last year, there were about 1,100 visitors in this category, she said, although no cattle are brought in from overseas for the expo.
In the past, there have been no extra biosecurity measures. This year, however, because of the heightened awareness and concern over foot-and-mouth and other disease problems, World Dairy Expo has decided additional biosecurity measures are warranted.
The measures will be announced today, June 21, at a special briefing called for exhibitors, producers, and industry members.
At the Ohio State Fair, there will be increased signage asking people not to touch or to pet the animals, said Christine Minier of the state fair staff.
Bedding in the animal barns will be changed between each group of animals brought into the barns, rather than leaving it in place until the end of the fair.
Lee McPhail, assistant director of the Division of Animal Industry of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, said existing biosecurity rules addressing the issues of exhibiting animals are sufficient for the current situation.
“These rules are long standing, but they are extremely timely this year,” McPhail said.
It is already required that each animal brought into any fair be inspected individually by a veterinarian to certify that it is healthy, he said, and that there be a daily inspection of the animals for signs of disease.
“There is no foot-and-mouth disease in the United States, but the risk has always been real,” he said. “It has been active in a dozen countries. It’s the cases that have turned up in England that has heightened everyone’s awareness of what has been there all the time.”
At the county fair level, Fred Bennett of the Lisbon Veterinary Clinic, who serves as one of the veterinarians for the Columbiana and Mahoning county fairs, said he sees no problem for exhibitors or livestock that has not always been inherent in bringing animals together.
There shouldn’t be any biosecurity concerns at the county level, he said, unless there are foreign visitors.
If there would be foreign visitors, he said, the USDA provisions at the ports of entry should have addressed the problem.
“In reality,” he said, “other than the human part of the thing and the heightened awareness of disease problems, nothing has changed from previous years.”
Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Sam Hayes has stated he has no intention of introducing special requirements that will reduce fair activities. The department’s Bureau of Animal Health has determined that increased biosecurity in the form of daily examinations of all animals brought to the fairs should be sufficient to guard against potential problems.
Keeping animals home.
Bruce Schmucker of the Pa. Bureau of Animal Health said he has been told by several people who call for information that they would not be taking their animals to the fairs this year.
And, while there is no foot-and-mouth in the United States at this time, he said he understands their concern.
“There is no danger right now,” he said, “but there is no guarantee that it would be identified on the first day there would be a case here.”
In Indiana, the State Board of Animal Health has recommended that animals taken to the fair be isolated for 30 days if returned home after the fair, and has asked that livestock owners with meat animals show only those that will be slaughtered after the fair.
(You can contact Jackie Cummins at 800-837-3419, ext. 23, or by e-mail at email@example.com.)
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