The Minnesota Board of Animal Health encourages livestock owners to make sure their animals are healthy, and their livestock equipment is cleaned before departing to exhibit at the Minnesota State Fair this year. Each August, the State Fair hosts more than 20,000 animals participating in livestock competitions, shows and exhibits. No animal may enter, or be present at, a public exhibition if it is showing clinical signs of any infectious, contagious or communicable disease, including ringworm and warts. Official veterinarians will be inspecting all livestock on the day they are admitted and daily during the fair. Any animals showing signs of illness must be removed from the fair at the direction of an official veterinarian.

"Even healthy-looking animals can carry disease and spread it to others, so it's a good idea to thoroughly look them over before loading and consult your veterinarian if anything looks suspicious," said Exhibition Program Director Dr. Courtney Wheeler. "Official State Fair veterinarians should be notified immediately if you observe signs of illness while at the fair."

Biosecurity and disease prevention best practices are key in preventing the spread of disease between animals, people and equipment. Exhibitors should wash vehicles and clean and disinfect tack, tools and equipment before leaving for the fair. Once in the barn, exhibitors are advised to not share tools or equipment with others and to regularly wash hands after handling animals. Exhibitors should also encourage members of the public to wash their hands when they enter and exit the barns. Designated handwashing sinks are available in each barn. If exhibitors are caring for animals at home and at the fair, chores should be performed at home first, and clothing should be changed before come home or heading to the fair.

After leaving the fair, all tools and equipment used at the fair, including clothing, should be thoroughly cleaned before being used on the farm. The Board also recommends isolating any returning animals for up to four weeks and monitoring them for signs of potential illness before incorporating them back into the home herd or flock. 

This article was submitted by the Minnesota Board of Animal Health.