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      Health officials urge fair goers clean hygiene

      It's that time of the year again. Ohio??s 2013 agricultural fair season kicks off and health officials want people attending local fairs to practice good hygiene when visiting livestock this summer.

      The Ohio Departments of Health (ODH) and Agriculture (ODA) are reminding that some illnesses, such as influenza viruses, are commonly carried by livestock. Experts said these viruses can be directly transmitted between animals and humans in the same way those illnesses are often transmitted between people.

      Individuals should always wash hands with soap and water before and after petting or touching any animal. Never eat, drink, or put anything in your mouth in animal areas. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to leave strollers outside the animal exhibits and carry small children. Older adults, pregnant women, young children, and people with weakened immune systems should consider avoiding animal areas. Fair season in Ohio lasts from mid-June through October. ODA has worked closely with fair boards, youth organizations and fair veterinarians to increase access to hand sanitizers and hand washing stations. Frequent hand washing can lower your risk of getting sick from influenza, salmonella, E. Coli and other infections.

      ODA encourages fair organizers to post reminders about good hygiene in animal areas to help protect the health of fair goers this year.