Protecting animals and people from the spread of zoonotic disease, By Beth Ferry from Michigan State University

Resources are available to help organizers of jackpot, one day shows and exhibition events lower the risk of disease spread at their event.

Youth walking with a pig.
Youth all over the U.S. participant in livestock shows and exhibitions. Photo from IStock.

Throughout Michigan and the U.S., one-day prospect shows, jackpots, and other livestock exhibitions are a great way for youth to experience the agriculture industry while learning valuable skills. Youth all over the U.S. take part in showing animals at exhibitions put on by the livestock industry. Traveling to shows, spending time with friends and making memories are some of the best parts of these events.

These shortened exhibition events are held throughout the show season and provide opportunities for youth to work their animals in the ring, learn from others in the industry and make connections, and network with industry professionals. While these shortened events provide great opportunities there is also a risk of spreading disease when animals from different farms are comingled.

Show committees, organizers, and other volunteers who host these events not only have the responsibility of putting on the shows, but also protecting the health of people and animals at the exhibition. This includes protecting them from the spread of zoonotic diseases. Zoonotic diseases are diseases that can infect both people and animals; one common zoonotic disease is swine influenza.

Swine influenza viruses do not normally infect people; however, human infections have occurred. While these types of infections are not common, it is still important that those who organize and participate in exhibition events do everything they can to mitigate the risk of disease spread.

Key practices that event organizers can put in place to limit the spread of disease at one-day livestock shows include:

  • Request that animals be free from signs of illness before unloading.
  • Require proper vaccination and deworming of all animals to show at the event.
  • Post proper signage through the event facility encouraging participants to wash hands and not eat or drink in animal areas.
  • Offer information regarding signs of illness and biosecurity practices that exhibitors can employ after they return home from the event.

These recommendations and other resources can be found on the MSU Extension One-Day Livestock Show webpage. Show organizers and those who manage exhibition facilities will find ready-to-print signage, biosecurity recommendations and social media graphics that can be used in conjunction with their event. These resources will help those responsible for organizing a one-day livestock show be best prepared to host these events with less concern for disease spread, further lowering the risk of zoonotic disease outbreaks. By accessing these resources, participants in these events will learn to mitigate disease spread, identify sick animals, and monitor their own health for signs of zoonotic disease infection.