Fall fairs and health
- posted Aug, 30 2012
REGION - Hundreds of thousands of visitors will flock to this year’s local fairs to enjoy all that these traditional events have to offer, all while consuming a variety of long-awaited fair foods, beverages and treats, which keeps officials at the Northeast District Department of Health (NDDH) on their toes. Each year, health inspectors from NDDH can be found criss-crossing the fairgrounds, inspecting hundreds of food booths to assure that all foods are being stored, handled, prepared, and served properly. In addition to inspections and promoting messages to avoid food borne illness, Starkey notes a new strain of swine flu that is being watched by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the CDC, so far, the severity of illnesses associated with this virus in people has been similar to the severity of illnesses associated with seasonal flu virus infections. NDDH has provided CDC flyers and recommendations to fair officials to prevent the potential spread of flu viruses between pigs and people. In 2006, grants from the National Association of County and City Health Officials and CT Department of Public Health allowed NDDH to develop signage to urge fairgoers to use caution while visiting all animal areas and prompts visitors to wash or sanitize their hands frequently. Visitors to animal exhibits are also asked to avoid bringing pacifiers, bottles, sippy cups, food and drink into these areas. NDDH also provides both fairs with portable hand sanitizer dispensers and additional hand washing signage for restrooms, and proper food consumption signage displayed by food vendors. Information on Influenza A H3N2v and educational materials can be found at www.cdc.gov. The link for fair organizers is www.cdc.gov/flu/pdf/swineflu/planning-your-fair.pdf.