The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) has identified pigs at the Fowlerville Family Fair in Livingston County and a second location — the Eastern Michigan State Fair held at Imlay City in Lapeer County — positive for swine flu in the past week.
The Fowlerville Fair Board isolated infected pigs to prevent additional exposure. Infected pigs began showing symptoms in the afternoon of Thursday, July 25, and laboratory results were confirmed late Friday afternoon. All pigs were reportedly removed from the fairgrounds.
Although there are no reported human illnesses, the Livingston County Health Department (LCHD) is reaching out to exhibitors and their families who participated at the Fowlerville Family Fair who may have been in close contact with the infected pigs.
The LCHD is also instructing healthcare providers in the area to watch for patients presenting with respiratory symptoms who report exposure to swine or who visited the swine barn. In addition, any individuals who attended the fair and were exposed to the pigs and have influenza-like symptoms should contact LCHD.
MDARD also received notification from Eastern Michigan State Fair officials late Friday, July 26, that one pig — out the roughly 100 pigs at the event — had a temperature above 105 degrees. After additional monitoring and evaluation and another notification to MDARD, a total of four pigs displayed possible symptoms of influenza.
Those four pigs and five asymptomatic penmates were sent home (nine total). The Lapeer County fair’s pig barn was closed to the public. The following day, one additional pig had a fever of 106 degrees and was isolated and ultimately taken to an offsite home location.
MDARD obtained 10 samples for lab testing on Monday from a total of three offsite home locations, which were submitted to Michigan State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Lab (MSU VDL) for swine influenza testing.
MSU VDL confirmed on Tuesday, July 30, that five of the 10 pigs tested positive for Influenza-A. All five pigs were from one home location, while the other five pigs from the other two locations tested negative.
According to MDARD, there have been no reports of sick exhibitors. The Michigan Department of Community Health and Human Service is also reporting there have been no human cases of Influenza A related to the fairs.
Swine Flu & Tips for Fair Exhibitors
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the USDA, swine influenza is a highly contagious respiratory disease of pigs caused by type-A influenza viruses that regularly cause outbreaks of influenza in pigs. Influenza viruses that commonly circulate in swine are called “swine influenza viruses” or “swine flu viruses.”
Like human influenza viruses, there are different subtypes and strains of swine influenza viruses. The main swine influenza viruses circulating in U.S. pigs in recent years have been, swine triple reassortant (tr) H1N1 influenza virus, trH3N2 virus, and trH1N2 virus.
When influenza (flu) viruses that normally circulate in pigs are detected in people, they are called “variant” flu viruses and are designated with the letter “v,” such as H1N1v and H3N2v. Variant flu virus infections in people occur rarely. This fact sheet has information about flu viruses in pigs and variant flu viruses in people.
Swine Flu Resources Available
According to Michigan State University (MSU) experts, the swine flu virus can circulate in the pig population but is generally not fatal and does not affect the meat products.
Swine influenza is a zoonotic disease and can occasionally be transmitted to humans. Human infection with flu viruses from pigs is most likely to occur when people are in close proximity to infected pigs, such as in pig barns and livestock exhibits housing pigs at fairs.
Exhibitors and those in close proximity to the animals are considered at highest risk and should follow proper biosecurity practices to protect themselves and their animals. Soap and water are very effective in deactivating/killing the virus.
In addition to the tips below, MSU Extension has additional information and signage available for public event/show organizers to access and download.
Tips for helping to keep people healthy
- Do not allow any food or beverages in the swine barn.
- Communicate the need to wash hands regularly: entering and leaving a barn, after touching animals and before eating and drinking. This is important for both exhibitors and fair visitors.
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizers and wipe stations can also be used to disinfect hands after contact with animals.
- Minimize general public and exhibitor time in the barn with pigs. Consider only allowing foot traffic through one area of the barn. Minimize the physical contact between pigs and people
- Seek medical care if exhibitors or visitors develop influenza-like symptoms.
Tips for helping to keep pigs healthy
- Animal check-ins provide a key opportunity to identify sick or symptomatic pigs prior to them entering the barn. Make sure to do a thorough examination of hogs at check-in.
- Continuously monitor pigs for signs of sickness throughout their exhibition time and notify your swine superintendent if pigs become symptomatic. Things to monitor include:
- Feed/water consumption. When pigs are off feed or depressed, it may be a sign that they are becoming ill.
- Fever, nasal discharge, high respiration or heart rate, sneezing, coughing or barking.
- Abnormal temperatures (normal temperature for a pig is 101.5 – 103.5 degrees Fahrenheit). If the temperature is equal to or greater than 105 degrees Fahrenheit, report to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development at 800-292-3939 (daytime) and 517-373-0440 (nights, weekends and holidays).
- If sick pigs are identified at check-in or throughout the fair, immediately move sick pigs off-site or isolate them from other animals on the fairgrounds. Continue to observe pigs in adjacent pens for signs of sickness.
- The influenza virus incubation time is one to four days; sending pigs to processing as early as possible will reduce the likelihood of clinical illness and spread of a virus from pigs to people as well as pigs to pigs. Reminder: pigs with fevers should not be sent to processing; however, once the fever has passed, they may enter the food chain. Additional strategies to reduce the spread of the virus include:
- Shortening the amount of time that pigs are at the fair (reducing the number of days pigs are exhibited at the fair).
- Closing swine barn gates to the public after the pigs have been on site for 72 hours.
- Stress can increase the risk of illness in hogs. In hot weather, it is important to reduce the stress on pigs as much as possible. Strategies include:
- Keeping pigs cool and hydrated. Sprinkle a few drops of cool water at the base of the animal’s head or the shoulder every 15 to 20 minutes during the heat of the day. This will keep them cool.
- Auctioning pigs without running them through the sale ring — instead, have the seller only in the ring.
- Moving the sale or show time to a cooler part of the day.
- Transportation is a stressful time for pigs during periods of heat. Avoid moving pigs during the heat of the day.
- Remove feed from pigs for 12 hours before shipment, but do not remove water.