NASHVILLE – Thousands of Tennesseans will be enjoying the sights, sounds and foods of county fairs in the upcoming weeks. The Tennessee Department of Health and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture remind visitors and exhibitors to prepare for a healthy trip to the fairgrounds by remembering the following tips:
- Wear a hat and sunscreen, preferably a sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays. Apply liberally and often. Sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection should also be worn during daylight hours.
- Wear long, loose and light-colored clothing to protect against insects and sun. Also remember to wear insect repellants that contain 20-50 percent or more of DEET on exposed skin.
- Drink water to avoid heat-related illnesses and limit sugary beverages with caffeine.
- Be thoughtful in choosing foods. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure or weight-related health issues, remember to enjoy foods in moderation.
- If you feel weak or light-headed, find a cool place to sit and rest. If there is an air-conditioned building on the property, go there, and don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. Most fairs have emergency medical personnel to provide aid.
- If you take medications, be sure to have them with you in case you need them and make sure you carry emergency contact information in case you become ill.
- Be aware of noise levels if you bring small children to the fair. Some loudspeakers and other sound-carrying devices can damage developing ears. An inexpensive set of earplugs is a convenient way to protect hearing.
- Wash hands well with soap and running water before and after exposure to animals. Don’t eat, drink or allow children to put things in their mouths while in animal areas.
Livestock exhibits are also popular attractions at fairs, and the Tennessee Department of Health is working cooperatively with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to help safeguard the health of people and animals. Some states have reported cases of a strain of influenza that has thus far been mild, known as H3N2v, that has infected pigs and, in some cases, humans in close contact with them. No cases of H3N2v have been reported in Tennessee.
Whenever individuals visit a petting zoo or livestock exhibit they should avoid eating and drinking around animals and wash their hands carefully with warm soapy water afterward. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers alone may not be effective. Parents should avoid taking strollers into areas where livestock are kept, and children should not take toys, pacifiers, spill-proof cups, baby bottles or similar items into animal barns.
“We want the public to enjoy and support their local fair but to also observe good health practices while around livestock for their own protection and that of the animals,” says State Veterinarian Charles Hatcher, DVM.
TDA and TDH are monitoring the situation closely and want the public to have increased awareness about precautions. Officials also note there is no risk in eating properly cooked pork products.