SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois Department of Agriculture is asking livestock exhibitors to monitor the health of their animals as the Illinois State Fair approaches.

State officials say owners should observe the health of their herds before bringing any animals to fairs. They should contact veterinarians if any animal shows symptoms of an illness. State officials say the monitoring is necessary to prevent the spread of illness or disease among animals.

State agriculture experts suggest having strict biosecurity measures and washing hands before and after working with animals.

Dr. Mark Ernst is state veterinarian for the Illinois Department of Agriculture. He says the department puts a high priority on making sure animals "are healthy before, during and after" fairs.

The Illinois State Fair runs from Aug. 10 to 20.