The county fair swine show season in Iowa will soon begin, and ISU Extension swine veterinarian James McKean says there are specific steps exhibitors and fair attendees should follow to decrease health risks for animals and people who attend just to watch or who attend to exhibit.
"Exhibitors are strongly encouraged to vaccinate their show pigs for erysipelas, a common and rapid spreading illness in pigs. They should consult with their veterinarian about specific vaccines, follow the label dosage, observe the required withdrawal times for each vaccine and be sure to allow adequate time for the animals to develop immunity," McKean says. "Also, they should consult with their vet about whether/which influenza vaccine should be considered at the same time."
This recommendation is not new. At least four years ago, pre-exhibit vaccination with both erysipelas and influenza vaccines was strongly encouraged through Iowa State's Iowa Pork Industry Center where McKean is associate director.
Pigs that are off-feed, have a fever or are generally unwell should be left at home. Likewise, people who aren't feeling well shouldn't go into swine barns
"With up to three weeks before full protection after a vaccination and a required three-week withdrawal period, these vaccinations need to be administered in a timely manner," he emphasizes. "Collective action by exhibitors adds an effective tool in a swine or livestock exhibition's biosecurity plan."
Both erysipelas and influenza can spread rapidly in a group environment such as a swine barn at a fair, leading to major difficulties in providing good swine welfare. It also decreases marketing options for all swine at the exhibition. McKean says when in doubt, people should leave ill pigs at home and consult with their veterinarian about how to handle other animals that have been exposed to those pigs. "Pigs that are off-feed, have a fever or if they generally appear unwell should not be brought to a show," he says. "And likewise, people who're feeling ill with influenza symptoms should not go in swine barns. Both people and pigs can bring influenza viruses to an exhibition."