Following a five-fold increase in the number of swine flu cases nationwide in the last week, Minnesota county fairs are taking precautions against the spread of the disease.
There have been 158 reports of swine flu nationwide this week according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, although there have been no cases in Minnesota. The Associated Press reports that most cases are in Indiana and Ohio.
The CDC said the uptick in swine flu is largely due to county fairs in the lower Midwest and South that allowed fairgoers to touch pigs.
The Houston County Fair starts next week in Caledonia. Houston County Fair President Elden Pohlman said his fair has taken precautions against swine flu since an outbreak at the Minnesota State Fair in 2009.
Pohlman said the pigs' pens make it difficult for fairgoers to pet them.
The Douglas County Fair starts next week in Alexandria, Manager Dale Buchholz said he's trying to make fairgoers aware of the dangers of swine flu.
"We need to place signs up to make sure that people are encouraged to wash hands and we already have sanitizing stations at each entrance and exit to animal buildings," Buchholz said. "We're taking all the precautions that Douglas County health are recommending."
The CDC says this strain of swine flu appears to be mild and doesn't seem easily communicable between humans. The Associated Press reports that no one has died of the new strain.