Fans heading out to Aksarben’s River City Rodeo and Stock Show at the Century Link Center will notice a change in the animal zone.
With the threat of the new influenza strain H3N2 in hogs, people will not be able to touch them. The strain is transferable to humans. And this year’s vaccine offers no protection.
While there have been more than 300 cases nationwide in 13 states since last year, there have been no cases as of yet in Nebraska. Iowa had three cases last year.
“These pigs come from a very bio-secure environment and so they’re probably never going to be exposed to the virus,” said Dennis Toalson, an agribusiness professor at Southeast Community College.
Still, handlers have to take extra precautions, with frequent hand-washing. “Even feeding them and everything,” Toalson said. “The chances of it happening are so minuscule, but it's just not worth the risk because a lot of people come through here everyday."
To discourage event-goers from getting too close, a barricade has been placed on the floor around the pig pens. Organizers had similar protections in place several years ago when H1N1 first appeared.