When you're at a fair or carnival this summer the only thing you're probably worrying about is if you'll get to go on all of your favorite rides. However, you also need to be worried about the pigs.

Yes, pigs. Several county fairs around the state will have a petting zoo or farm animals for people to visit, including pigs; and the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services want people to be aware of the risks. Pigs can carry different strains of swine influenza which can be passed on to humans by saliva i.e. sneezing or coughing.

Swine influenza is a respiratory disease in pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that regularly circulate among swine.

Last year, 18 people around the U.S. were infected with variant influenza virus, including three from Michigan. Each person had some type of interaction with swine at fairs and exhibits. While all ages can be affected by this virus, most of the cases involved children.

People who are sick with swine influenza usually have it for a week, possibly longer. Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Body aches

There is currently no vaccine to protect someone from getting the virus but there are drugs to treat it. You can protect yourself by doing the following:

  • Washing your hands before and after petting a pig
  • Don't eat or drink in a livestock area
  • High-risk people should avoid barns
  • Do not take strollers, bottles, pacifiers, etc into the pig area

Get more info about swine influenza here.