Vigilance is job one in ensuring fair-bound livestock are and remain healthy

OSU News Feed –

State Fair season is among us, and with it the necessity for those showing livestock
to take all prudent steps to ensure their animal’s well-being.

“Diseases have always threatened to damper livestock shows so it should go without
saying that exhibitors should never bring animals to the fair if they are showing
any symptoms of illness,” said Dr. Barry Whitworth, Oklahoma State University Cooperative
Extension veterinarian and food animal quality and health specialist.

Swine diseases including swine flu, Seneca Valley virus and porcine epidemic diarrhea
virus have been and continue to be a concern for exhibitors. The highly pathogenic
avian influenza virus also continues to occasionally be a problem in the United States,
while equine herpes virus is still causing problems at horse events.

“The reason these diseases create such a problem is that they are either zoonotic,
mimic other more devastating diseases such as foot and mouth disease or could be economically
devastating to the food production industry,” Whitworth said.

For instance, the clinical signs of Seneca Valley virus in swine cannot be differentiated
from foot and mouth disease. If a pig is found to be lethargic, with blisters on the
snout or feet, and has an increase in body temperature, the state veterinarian would
treat the pig as infected with foot and mouth disease until proven otherwise. This
most likely would force an interruption or possibly even cancellation of the show.

With this in mind, each exhibitor should take the time to do a health check on their
animals before taking them to the fair. First, employ the BAR method: Is the animal
bright, alert and responsive?

“The BAR method evaluates the mental capacity of an animal,” Whitworth said.

Does the animal respond to stimulus? When you rattle a feed bucket, does the animal
raise its head and come to eat or does it act as though …

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