Health Department Collaborates with Ak-Sar-Ben
In two weeks the city of Omaha will welcome thousands to the CenturyLink Center for Ak-Sar-Benâ€™s River City Rodeo & Stock Show (ARCR). With the core events including youth and livestock, the Justin Boots Championships Rodeo, the Ak-Sar-Ben Stock Show, and the Douglas County Fair, public safety and animal care are integral to the eventâ€™s continued success. The identification of human infections with a new strain of influenza A (H3N2v) among persons who have had close contact with swine has prompted heightened awareness and preventive planning by local Health Department officials and ARCR staff.
â€śAs Omahaâ€™s Official Community Celebration, the health and welfare of our participants and attendees is our first priority,â€ť said Beth Greiner, President, Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben Foundation. â€śWe are collaborating with the team of professionals at the Douglas County Health Department to provide the safest environment for both our two- and four-legged participants.â€ť
The H3N2v virus has caused human infections among persons having contact with swine at fairs in Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota and other states. The majority of these infections have been in young people who exhibit the swine or spend time with them. Symptoms are similar to seasonal influenza (fever, cough, sore throat). Influenza passes equally between swine and people. Therefore, in addition to the normal event procedures including veterinary presence, on-site medical professionals, an Animal Care Committee presence, and numerous hand-washing stations; ARCR and Health Department officials will be activating additional preventative measures. They include pre-notification to all exhibitors; limited access to the 4-H Swine area; a no-contact rule for the Swine Farrowing Display; additional hand-washing stations, and limited stroller access points in animal areas.
â€śThe Douglas County Health Department has reviewed with ARCR their policies and procedures for public safety and will continue to work closely with them to ensure a successful and safe event,â€ť said Adi M. Pour, Ph.D, Director of the Douglas County Health Department. â€śThe Department will monitor the situation as well as notify our health care providers of the heightened risk during the four-day event.â€ť
More information on influenza A (H3N2v) can be found on the Douglas County Health Department website or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/swineflu/h3n2v-outbreak.htm).