(BLOOMINGTON) - There may be a cause for concern to humans after several pigs at the Monroe County fair have come down with a mysterious illness.
Other fair officials around Indiana have been alerted about the illness. That includes organizers at the Indiana state fair which starts in three days.
State health officials say until they figure out how the pigs got sick, they are keeping the general population of visitors at the Monroe County Fair from entering the swine barn.
"I think it started (Monday) night with the information coming in," said Monroe county fair board public information director David Smith.
Smith said they don't want to call the illness swine flu, but they don't really know what's causing the illness. "Basically we are dealing with some hogs that are getting sick to be honest and those that are getting sick we are sending home," he said.
Because officials don't know what the illness is, they are taking precautions.
"We are trying to take an abundance of precaution. We are managing the access to our barns, encouraging folks to make sure they wash their hands before they eat," said Amy Thompson with the Purdue Extension.
Denise Derrer with the State Board of Animal Health says they're not exactly sure why these animals appear to be sick.
"Some veterinarians have been out on site. They've taken some samples and it's going to be several days to a week before the information will get back from the laboratory tests so we can confirm what's going on."
Signs are posted outside the swine barn warning visitors to stay away. The only people allowed inside are swine club members and their families.
"We are not sure exactly what's going on right now," said Kelli Lentz of Monroe County.
Lentz owns two pigs in the barn. She said she was told last night to keep a close eye on her hogs. "My pigs have been acting fine; I haven't noticed any kind of difference. They are eating and drinking," Lentz said.
Lentz said she's not too concerned about the illness or getting sick. "I would think if it was more, something we really needed to be concerned about, they would be keeping us away from them. That doesn't seem to be going on right now," she said.
Fair board officials said they will be monitoring the health of the remaining pigs in the barn. They said if they come down with a temperature of illness they will be sent home.
Derrer says they have seen an increase in animals at county fairs that appear to be sick, though nothing has been confirmed. She says the Board of Animal Health will be taking extra precautions at the Indiana State Fair, which begins Friday, to make sure any animals that appear to be ill are not allowed into the fair.
"We're taking the temperature of any of the animals that come onto the grounds and any of the pigs that have a temperature of 105 degrees or more, we're actually sending them home," she says. "They're not going to be allowed to even get off the truck."
Derrer says there's one point that needs to be stressed...
"As far as food goes, it's safe to eat your pork products," she added. "We have an inspection system in Indiana as well as this country that really makes sure that the food we eat is safe."
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