County fairs are a possible venue for animal-to-human pathogen transmission.
We conducted a study in the summer of 2004 at county fairs in the Midwest to investigate the role poultry exhibits have in spreading avian pathogens to humans. A nearly invisible powder (pathogen surrogate) that fluoresces under UV light was surreptitiously sprinkled each day on 1 show bird at each of 2 fairs. A UV light box was used to daily examine the hands of 94 poultry-exhibit participants (blinded regarding UV box results) for up to 4 days during the poultry shows. Enrollment and end-of-study questionnaires collected data on pathogen risk factors. Eight (8.5%) of 94 participants had evidence of fluorescent powder contamination (95% confidence interval 2.76%–14.26%). This contamination and infrequent handwashing practices suggest that county fairs are a possible venue for animal-to-human pathogen transmission.