Fairgoers face new health threats

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on September 3, 2012 at 7:34 PM

DALLAS — As workers labor to make the State Fair of Texas grounds beautiful, organizers say efforts are also being taken to make it safer from disease.

All 277 acres have already been sprayed once to combat the mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus.

"This week, they'll start spraying the lagoon area," added State Fair spokeswoman Sue Gooding. "And then, if we need to do another round before the Fair, we'll do that, and then anything we need to do during the Fair."

Officials say fairgoers will be encouraged to bring their own insect repellant.

Three years ago, when swine flu first hit, the Fair installed hand sanitizers to prevent people from passing that virus person-to-person.

This year, another form of pig flu is a threat. Federal health officials confirmed a 61-year-old Ohio woman died from the H3N2v virus after having direct contact with pigs at a county fair.

At least fourteen others have been hospitalized.

As a result, State Fair officials say contact this year with pigs will be limited. Strollers, pacifiers, and food are discouraged in the livestock area as a precaution.

"We're reducing what we can as far as in the petting areas," Gooding said. "We do have a veterinarian here, and as long as the county health director is OK with us bringing the pigs in for the pig show, we will continue to do that. But we will encourage everyone to clean their hands."

Every animal entering the State Fair of Texas will be inspected by a veterinarian before being allowed into the barns.

The Fair is also working with the Dallas County Health and Human Services department to determine if either plan should be altered before the festivities begin on September 28.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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