Montgomery County Agricultural Fair officials said it would have a safe, sanitary environment at the fair, despite reports from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention citing the possibility of increases in swine flu cases linked to pigs at local fairs.
The report, mentioned in the Washington Post, linked local agricultural fairs to 12 new cases of the H3N2v virus in Hawaii, Ohio and Indiana. No cases have been reported in Maryland.
“We provide numerous opportunities for folks to wash their hands after making contact with the animals,” said Martin Svrcek, executive director of the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair.
No recent cases of the virus have been reported in Montgomery County, said Dr. Ulder Tillman, Montgomery County’s health officer.
Although the county will make the public aware of the federal advisory and precautions they can take while at the fair, there is no indication the virus is in the area currently, Tillman said.
Swine flu is communicable to humans, she said.
The International Association of Fairs and Expositions gave the fair its highest rating in sanitation, Svrcek said. The fair will offer more than 40 sanitizing stations on the grounds, portable wash stations hooked to fresh water supply with soap and paper towels and signage to remind fairgoers to take advantage of their resources.
“We’ve done this for years,” Svrcek said. “It’s not new.”
Svrcek said the fair is trying to be “diligent and vigilant” in promoting sanitation by taking manure off the grounds daily and washing the roads and streets daily.
Tillman said her department has contacted fair officials about the concerns.
The county has asked the fair to post signs recommending hand washing and not eating where pigs are kept, as those are the best precautions participants and fair-goers can take, she said.
The fair, scheduled to begin Friday, runs through Aug. 18 at the county fairgrounds in Gaithersburg. For more information, visit mcagfair.com/.