Pilot staff reports

For the balance of the summer, Oregon’s county fair season will bring together people, animals and food — a combination that is supposed to lead to a good time, free of worries about pathogens that could lead to illness.

“We want happy people at our county fairs, not sick people,” says State Veterinarian Brad LeaMaster of the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

The Curry County Fair is scheduled July 26-29 in Gold Beach.

ODA’s Food Safety and Animal Health programs are providing unified messages for fair goers this summer — and common sense tips that promote a healthy and satisfying experience.

Handwashing is the number one priority, officials said.

“Wash your hands when you go in to see the animals, wash your hands when you go out,” advises LeaMaster. “Use those handwashing stations. That really helps lower the risk of moving any potential pathogens around.”

Two common pathogens of concern at fairs and other events involving animals are salmonella and E. coli. Both, to some extent, are normally present in these environments. They can become a problem for people when cross-contamination occurs. E. coli caused dozens of illnesses at the Lane County Fair in 2002.

Other animal diseases on the radar include avian influenza and exotic newcastle disease in poultry, Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1), vesicular stomatitis in horses and cattle, swine flu and a viral hemorrhagic disease in rabbits.

Food safety

Fair goers should remember the follow common sense tips offered for all outdoor eating venues.

“You are usually able to get large portions of food at the fair and sometimes you can’t finish it all,” says Smit. “People may want to take that food home, but that’s not recommended unless it can be properly kept in cold storage. That food should not be consumed after two hours on a typical warm day. If it’s a day above 90 degrees, you will need to put your food on ice or in a cooler within one hour.”

The fact that no large scale outbreak of food borne illness at Oregon fairs has occurred in 15 years is encouraging.