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Fair changes put humans, animals farther apart

Posted August 9, 2012

— Visitors to the 2012 North Carolina State Fair will see even more signs reminding them to wash their hands, the result of an investment of more than $200,000 after 25 people contracted E. coli infections last year that could be linked to a livestock building.

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler and state epidemiologist Dr. Megan Davies reviewed the changes Thursday morning and reiterated the reminder that soap, water and frequent hand washing are the only ways to prevent the spread of infection when people, animals and food come together.

Hand-washing stations throughout the fairgrounds will get better lighting and larger signs this year in an attempt to encourage even more fair visitors to use the sanitizer, soap and water provided.

Troxler formed a task force to develop recommendations last fall. "From the beginning of this investigation, we have been focused on finding answers about why these illnesses occurred," he said. New barriers keep kids from cows at state fair New barriers keep kids from cows at state fair

Animal exhibits and food vendors will be relocated to put more space between them, and visitors will find new routes through animal buildings that limit the contact that people can have. 

"You will walk past the animals. You will see the animals, but you cannot walk into the pens. You cannot walk into the Graham building with the dairy cattle, with the beef cattle. You will have to stand and look from some distance," said David Smith, chief deputy commissioner in the Department of Agriculture. "There will be physical barriers to prevent your interaction."

Only in the petting zoo area will fair visitors be allowed and encouraged to touch the animals. Hand-washing and sanitizing stations outside the petting zoo were added after a 2004 outbreak sickened more than 100. 

Davies pointed out that signs at the fairgrounds advise parents not to take strollers through animal buildings, where they can pick up bacteria that children later transfer from hands to mouths. 

"Don't roll a stroller through a barn. That's something that's always been suggested," she said.

No matter the precautions, both Troxler and Davies emphasized the inherent risks.

"Animals are not the only point of contact that you can get E. coli," Troxler said. 

"While there is no way to completely eliminate the potential for exposure, the measures being implemented will minimize the risk," Davies said.

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  • fayncmike Aug 13, 5:45 p.m.

    "Yep, that the problem we became a gremaphopic socity, Yes like the kids out to get dirty, from sun up to sun down, that was a normal childhood, yes I got sick but I recovered very quickly and still due so today. And yes I have even eaten raw hamburger as a kid... life was fun then. Now you see mom with 500 hand soap bottles hanging off their bags.... a fraid to touch anything...
    Sherlock"

    It's the new paranoia. And it's being fueled by companies like Lysol who are getting rich selling unnecessary products. About the funniest thing I've seen lately is a "hands free" germicidal hand soap dispenser. If you are going to wash your hands with germicidal soap what difference does it make if you touch the dispenser?

  • fishon Aug 10, 3:41 p.m.

    ust yesterday I was in a washroom and someone used the restroom and just walked out after... Desiderata August 9, 2012 1:23 p.m.

    I saw that at a Kroger store, then the guy proceeded to go and start putting food containers on the shelves...

  • HereswhatIthink Aug 10, 1:28 p.m.

    to storchheim - maybe you should read up on ADHD and you would know that that the "H" stands for "hyperactivity". My son has ADHD and I can assure you he is constantly running, playing, getting scraped elbows and knees, sweaty from playing basketball or hide and seek with all the neighborhood kids. In fact he is constantly "on the go" and I love him just the way he is.

  • Sherlock Aug 10, 1:24 p.m.

    Yep, that the problem we became a gremaphopic socity, Yes like the kids out to get dirty, from sun up to sun down, that was a normal childhood, yes I got sick but I recovered very quickly and still due so today. And yes I have even eaten raw hamburger as a kid... life was fun then. Now you see mom with 500 hand soap bottles hanging off their bags.... a fraid to touch anything...

  • storchheim Aug 10, 12:26 p.m.

    "Children raised without some early exposure to dirt, and normal microbes, grow up to have autoimmune disorders, chemical sensitivities, and other issues.

    Some autoimmune conditions are now being treated with parasitic intestinal worms..." - aetius67

    All together now: HEALTH CARE COSTS TOO MUCH!!! And it's all the fault of the evil rich! It should be FREE! IT'S A HUMAN RIGHT!!!

    Let your snowflakes out to play, maybe even come in contact with other kids, skin an elbow, scrape a knee, get dirty, get sweaty, get moving, get tired. I'm tired of paying for their weekly visits due to food allergies, asthma, and most of all their "ADHD". I'd much rather pay for a few stitches a couple of times during their childhood than their milquetoast delicacy, physical and mental, for the rest of their lives.

  • Paul Parker Aug 10, 11:57 a.m.

    Just yesterday I was in a washroom and someone used the restroom and just walked out after...I called them on it yelling out the door that that person did not wash their hands after using the bathroom..
    Desiderata
    August 9, 2012 1:23 p.m.

    So in other words you're a busybody that doesn't know how to mind their own business!

  • Paul Parker Aug 10, 11:55 a.m.

    So now, because .0025% of the people that went to the fair contracted E. coli infections last year that COULD (in other words they are not certain that it was) be linked to a livestock building, they're not even going to allow people to go near the animals.
    Come on people, .0025% is a statistacaly insignificant number, and they can't even prove that it was linked to the livestock building (they just THINK that it COULD be).

  • knockitoff Aug 10, 11:35 a.m.

    You can get eColi from a bag of lettuce.

    So because people could not use common sense that God gave them we have to virtually shut off access to see the animals. THATS truthfully why I went to the fair, certainly NOT for the rides, food or spending money at the vendors. I went for the exhibits.

    Simple...wash your hands after you touch ANYTHING, use wipes or use sanitizing gel.

    For heavens sake a study was done that 20% of your market carts have feces p@@p on them - why do you think they offer WIPES at the door!!!

    What in the world is this world coming too! Soon they may as well just remove the fair!

  • Stormy13 Aug 10, 11:35 a.m.

    sillyabbitthepatriot: For the past 15 yrs. I have taken off at my full time job to work at the same eating establishment from Buffalo, NY and know first hand how strict the NC Health Dept. laws are. An establishment cannot open without being inspected daily. The employees where I work all must wear rubber gloves also. Best advise from all these postings: ALWAYS WASH YOUR HANDS!

  • madamwuf Aug 10, 11:20 a.m.

    Now my favorite part of the fair is less exciting. I loved being able to get close to the animals. I don't really want to stand at the entrance to the Graham building and look at the cows from a distance. I can do that for free next to the vet school fence.

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