With Labor Day weekend behind us, so comes the close of the South Dakota State Fair. As thousands of visitors from across the state, as well as from outside our borders gathered in Huron to take in the various entertainment and competitive events occurring during the five-day event, a significant amount of interaction between people and animals was also generated. While the fair provides great opportunities for exhibitors and spectators to participate in hands-on animal activities, it also becomes a place for livestock to potentially share new germs or diseases with each other. In order to protect the health and wellbeing of animals and people, there are some simple steps that you can do after returning home from the fair.
Since the State Fair is commonly the last show of the season for several show animals, a common trend once returning home is to turn your show animal, especially breeding animals, back out with the rest of your herd. However, show animals were just exposed to several other animals from different operations with unknown health history. It is thus important to isolate show animals for approximately 30 days from any other animals that have not left the farm. Keeping animals isolated at a distance of 300 yards from other animals is recommended. There is no guarantee that your animals contracted any new diseases while exhibiting at the fair. However, by monitoring the animals for any signs of illness following the fair, you can hopefully avoid the introduction of new infectious agents into your herd. If animals show any unusual health symptoms, contact your local veterinarian.
Another good management practice is to clean manure and soil from all equipment, vehicles and trailers that were used to transport animals from the fair. Discard used bedding from trailers, and use soap and water, as well as disinfectant to clean all equipment that may have had contact with other animals.
In addition to cleaning livestock equipment and monitoring your animal’s heath, it is also important to monitor your family’s health since some zoonotic diseases have the potential of being spread between humans and animals at the fair. Although there were several hand washing stations throughout the fairgrounds, washing clothes and shoes upon arriving home will quickly remove any infectious debris that may have traveled with you.
Although all livestock exhibitors are required to have health papers for their animals attending the fair, being aware of the health of your animals prior to, during, and after the fair is vital to maintain biosecurity on your farm and minimize the spread of diseases. Showing livestock is an enjoyable experience for all parties involved, and by following these guidelines you can protect the health of you and your livestock once the show season is over.