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Upcoming fairs
Kosciusko County Community Fair…July 7-13
Huntington County 4-H Fair…July 12-26
Whitley County 4-H Fair…July 12-18
Noble County Community Fair…July 13-24
Wells County 4-H Fair…July 13-18
Steuben County 4-H Fair…July 19-25
Allen County Fair…July 23-28
DeKalb County Free Fall Fair…Sept. 23-28

Fair warning for fairgoers: Be on guard for swine flu

There will probably be rides, a demolition derby or two, some music, maybe a pie-eating contest and a few beauty pageants.

And even be some pig wrestling.

Summer season is county and 4-H fair season, and while everyone is encouraged to take in the fun, state health officials are cautioning Hoosiers to take precautions against a strand of swine flu that might be making the rounds.

Pig wrestling is one of the ways it could spread.

Four cases of variant influenza A, also called H3N2v, were found in people who had visited the Grant County Agricultural Fair this month. At least two of those people had come into contact with pigs, the State Department of Health announced Thursday.

Human infections with H3N2v are rare but have most commonly occurred after proximity to live infected pigs, including working with them in barns and livestock exhibits at fairs.

The strand of the flu cannot be passed by eating pork or pork products.

Those who get this type of swine flu can exhibit fever, cough, sore throat, chills, headache and muscle aches, the state health department said.

Diarrhea and nausea might occur in children, and symptoms can begin one to four days after exposure.

Many pigs with swine flu viruses do not show symptoms of being sick.

The flu is not a reportable disease, so it’s not clear if there has been much of it in Allen County, said Dr. Deborah McMahan, the county health commissioner.

Many people who get it probably never go to the doctor.

“If you go to the fairs, you probably want to wash your hands with vigorous friction and water,” McMahan said.

McMahan added that visiting fairs is probably one case where visitors do not want to rely solely on hand sanitizer they might keep in their purses or pockets.

Several fairs, such as those in Whitley, Noble and Allen counties, offer pig wrestling.

“When the pigs are out and you’re handling them, or wrestling with them, and there’s the potential of exposure, you have to just use good common sense,” McMahan said.

State health officials recommend that if you have visited a fair or been around animals, you should let your health care provider know.

That probably goes double if you’ve been down in the dirt and mud with them, too.