Safety changes coming to North Carolina State Fair

NC State Fair

August 9, 2012 10:45:01 AM PDT
Safety changes are coming to the North Carolina State Fair.

The changes are in response to an E. coli outbreak linked to the livestock building at last year's fair.

Almost 30 people got sick after being in the Kelley Building. The building was where sheep, goats, and pigs were housed and competed in livestock shows during the fair. It was the second E. coli outbreak linked to animals at the fair.

In an effort to balance safety and fun, officials plan to put more barriers between fair goers and livestock this October.

"They build on protective measures that are already in place and they reduce the risk while maintaining the fair's agricultural heritage and to me, that is a very important of the state fair," Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said.

Troxler said there will be different traffic patterns in and outside buildings that house animals and four food vendors will be moved away from the area. He also said visitors will not be able to get as close to the animals as before.

"If I had my druthers, or the livestock industry had their druthers, these barns would be wide open to the public, but we have to deal with reality and we have to deal with risk and we have to deal with the recommendations of this commission and public health partners," Troxler said.

The fair will also have more and bigger signage and lights near hand washing stations -- all the changes recommended by a fair commission.

"The recommendations and changes that were made by the state fair commission, were based on experience, evidence, and science," State Epidemiologist Dr. Megan Davies said.

The changes will cost the agriculture department over $200,000.

There was another outbreak linked to the fair in 2004, and since then, officials said they had gone to great lengths to prevent any new ones.

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