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Published August 21, 2012, 05:58 PM

Pig exhibit may be cancelled at the Minnesota State Fair

Hawley, MN (WDAY TV) -- A new strain of swine flu has some disease control experts calling for the Minnesota State Fair, which opens this week, to cancel the pig exhibit. For a Clay County teen that would mean the end of her chance to try and place her prize pig at the big show.

Hawley, MN (WDAY TV) -- A new strain of swine flu has some disease control experts calling for the Minnesota State Fair, which opens this week, to cancel the pig exhibit. For a Clay County teen that would mean the end of her chance to try and place her prize pig at the big show.

Meet Fox Face. He is a Duroc pig and the divine swine of 17 year-old Elsie Bauer.

Elise Bauer - Pig Exhibitor: "I really loved pigs since 2nd grade. My friends are all horse crazy, but I love my pigs."

Fox Face placed 3rd in the Clay County Fair - good enough to give him a ticket to the big show, The Minnesota State Fair. But some are calling for the hog portion of the fair to be called off.

Elise Bauer: "I would be devastated because this is probably going to be my last state fair since I am going to college next year."

The fear of some is that a mass gathering of pigs at the state fair might lead to the spread of a new strain of swine flu.

Dr. Michael Osterholm - Center for Infectious Disease Research: "In 80 years of being to culture influenza viruses or grow them, we've never seen this kind of transmission between animals and humans occurring like we are right now."

Elise Bauer: "We all got letters, all the swine exhibitors got letters about remembering no eating and drinking and washing your hands and stuff after you've been in the barns."

Exhibitors are also being told to watch for lethargic pigs which to the untrained eye seems like most of the time.

Elise Bauer: "If I come down here to feed him he'll usually get right up and come over and feed and if he was sick he probably wouldn't get up so easy."

Fox Face will get his big day to try and bring home the bacon. The State Fair says after consulting with the state epidemiologist the risk is not great enough to cancel, but it's not the immediate contact with pigs that has disease researchers at the U of M concerned.

Dr. Michael Osterholm: "So far, it hasn't caused severe illness but the ongoing transmission of it would be the perfect warm up for it eventually genetically changing and causing severe illness and that's what we are trying to minimize."

Researchers says because the main transmission is airborne, hand washing does little to prevent it.

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