BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Pigs at the Charles County Fair tested positive for swine flu, leading state and county agencies to take precautions, including testing some 4-H kids for the virus.
County fairs and pigs are a tradition.
They are frequently part of 4-H judging contests, but on Sunday, as the Charles County fair was closing, five pigs showed signs of swine flu.
“They were vomiting, they had increased respiratory rates, they were coughing, open mouth breathing, they were reluctant to move, they weren’t eating,” said MDA state veterinarian Michael Radebaugh.
That led the state to quarantine 107 pigs in a fairground barn.
Outbreaks are not common, and not a threat to people who haven’t been in contact with the pigs.
“No, it’s not a threat to people unless they come into really close contact with the pigs,” Radebaugh said.
Video of other county fairs show 4-H kids routinely have close contact, and there are reminders that hand washing is the best defense against the flu jumping from pig to human.
State and county health departments are testing at least seven 4-H members to see if they contracted the virus at the fair.
Because of the outbreak, Maryland’s Department of Agriculture has cancelled upcoming swine exhibits in St. Mary’s and Calvert Counties.
“We have it contained right now,” Radebaugh said. “The pigs are doing better, and hopefully, we’ll release the quarantine on them next week.”
Test results on the 4-H members have not yet been released.
Like other flu viruses, the swine flu can be treated with antiviral drugs.