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Avoiding Illness at the Fair and Festivals

There’s no better way to experience summer fun in Northern Michigan than by visiting one of our many family festivals or fairs, but the animals at those fairs could carry dangerous diseases.

Dr. Michael Collins from the Department of Health and Human Services of Grand Traverse says that people sometimes forget the health risks involving animals when they go to fairs and festivals.

“Parents should be aware that you can get illnesses from animals just like you can get them from people,” said Dr. Collins. “Indirect contact like from the rails or from their feeding dishes, certainly if an animal were to cough or sneeze into a kids face or adults face too, then there are a number of illnesses you can get.”

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services also recently released a statement on protecting you and your family from swine influenza. Here are the tips they recommend:

  • Refrain from eating or drinking in livestock barns or show rings.
  • Do not take toys, pacifiers, cups, baby bottles, strollers or similar items into swine areas.
  • Anyone who is at high risk of serious flu complications and is planning to attend a fair should avoid pigs and swine barns.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Avoid contact with pigs if you have flu-like symptoms.
  • If you are sick, stay home from work or school until your illness is over.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it and wash your hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.