Agricultural shows are held in metropolitan and country areas in all states of Australia. Exhibitors bring their animals to these shows to compete with other exhibitors, and/or as entertainment (eg. petting zoos, racing pigs). These shows present a risk for introducing exotic disease to livestock due to the close contact between the public and the animals. It is unlikely that the general public contacting animals at these exhibits have any knowledge of swill feeding, and they are often consuming substances that are prohibited to feed to pigs.
Agricultural shows present a particular risk for disease dissemination, because livestock from multiple sources are brought to a central location and commingled. A preliminary study undertaken at US State Fair demonstrated that livestock exhibitions provided conditions that could allow an epizootic of a disease to occur. In this study, there were no systems in place to track animals in the event of an infectious disease outbreak (Amass et al, 2004). The authors recommended a system be developed to allow accurate tracking of exhibited animals at State fairs.
The major aim of this project is to investigate the potential for foot and mouth disease virus to be introduced in pigs at agricultural shows and to spread to other animals at the show. We aim to determine if there are systems in place to track animals in the event of a foot and mouth disease outbreak and will examine the biosecurity hazards of exhibiting pigs at agricultural shows for other significant endemic diseases in the Australian pig industry.
Amass, S.F., Schneider, J.L. and Kenyon, S.J. (2004) Investigation of the ability to determine final destinations of pigs exhibited at the 2002 Indiana State Fair. Swine Health and Production 12 (6):282-284