LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - It's not just the West Nile Virus that state health officials are warning folks about right now. As Arkansas' fair season gets underway, they are also pushing precautions to avoid swine flu.
So far there are no reported Swine flu cases in Arkansas. But the state health department is still monitoring the national situation with swine flu, and on Friday, put out a notice urging fair-goers to be careful. We talked with a fair manager in Van Buren County, who is also in precautionary mode right now.
In a few weeks, these two pigs head to the Van Buren County Fair. They will trade in their pen at home for one at the fair grounds.
"Right behind me is the swine pens," said Fair Manager Corrine Weatherly.
It's home for the big show.
"Oh my yes, we think about it 24-7 and we're out here every night after work," Weatherly said.
Weatherly and her staff are busy with preps that include a bathroom renovation we saw and swine-flu prevention.
"The hogs are actually tested on site at their farms, they have health papers that come in with them," Weatherly said.
We were shown health papers for the two hogs mentioned earlier, showing them disease-free. But if any others are not come fair time, Weatherly says, "If they show signs of anything, we just send them home, there's no question."
Weatherly says there's also some basic things fair-goers need to do, just in case.
"The best prevention for us is common sense, wash your hands on your way in and out of the barns, we have wash stations that will be there, ready with sanitizers, paper towels," Weatherly said.
And while it may be tempting, you shouldn't pet these animals.
"Unless it's somebody that you know and you're comfortable with it and the owner is there and they are comfortable with it too, but otherwise it's just not a good idea," Weatherly said.
They are all steps to ensure a fun fair for us and them.
She also says you'll want to avoid bringing any food or drinks into the animal areas at any fair this summer. The state health department added in its notice that young children, pregnant women and people over 65 with weakened immune systems should be extra careful.
Nationally the Centers for Disease Control reports more than 200 swine flu cases since July. Officials say in most cases it was all due to pig exposure and not passed from one person to another. The CDC also reports the symptoms so far are similar to a seasonal flu.