Avian Flu Spread Slowing, but Shows Still Being Cancelled

US - There have been few announcements of new highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks in recent days, but shows still continue to be cancelled as regulators look to prevent the disease spreading.
calendar icon 12 June 2015
clock icon 5 minute read

The US Department of Agriculture has announced only one newly confirmed outbreak in the week beginning 8 June, in Iowa. In addition, the worst affected states of Iowa and Minnesota have not announced any new presumed cases this week.

Quarantines are being lifted in the affected areas, for example the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) announced that after extensive testing, the quarantines on poultry premises in control zones within 6.2 miles (10 km) of five farms in Barron County are now released. There have been no new detections of in Wisconsin since 4 May.

While the control zone quarantines are lifted, the farms themselves remain quarantined until further notice. They must undergo a cleaning and disinfection process before being released from quarantine and authorised to repopulate their flocks.

“These five are the last of the control zone quarantines in the state to be released, but since positive flocks are still being reported in states to our West we still need to closely watch birds for signs of illness,” says Dr Paul McGraw, Wisconsin State Veterinarian. “If this virus is still in the environment, it remains a concern.”

Dr McGraw later issued two orders restricting participation in poultry events, exhibitions and fairs in Wisconsin, adding the state to several others where bird shows have been cancelled.

However, showing birds is not completely cancelled in county, district or state fairs, but only in other swap meets or open shows in the state. The second order requires fair organisers to have exhibitors certify that there have been no poultry mortalities on their premises for the 10 calendar days prior to moving their poultry to the event.

“We evaluated the risk of these different events, and steps the participants could take to lower the risk even more, when determining how to frame these orders,” said Dr McGraw.

“We determined that county, district and state fairs present a low risk of spreading avian influenza when the exhibitors certify that they have not had any mortalities within ten days.”

He continued: “We understand that youth and adults alike invest quite a bit of time and care to prepare their birds for exhibiting at fairs, but we must also protect the rest of the poultry in Wisconsin, so it was a challenging decision.

“Ultimately, it is our responsibility to protect the poultry industry in Wisconsin and the contribution that the industry makes to our economy.”

In addition, North Carolina's State Veterinarian Doug Meckes and Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler have announced that all North Carolina poultry shows and public sales will be suspended from August to January due to the threat of highly pathogenic avian influenza.

Their ban includes the State Fair and Mountain State Fair poultry shows, bird shows at county fairs, live bird auctions and poultry swap meets.

As the virus is thought to be carried by migratory fowl, veterinary officials are bracing for possible introduction of the virus during the fall migration.

“We know this ban will affect a number of poultry shows and kids who have planned to exhibit at their county fair or the State Fair,” Mr Troxler said.

“We regret having to make this decision, but we think it is in the best interest of everyone involved. We’re working on ways to keep youth who wanted to show at fairs interested in showing.”

In Kentucky, State Veterinarian Robert C. Stout has also enacted restrictions on bird sales and movements. Comingling sales events such as markets are now banned, and entry of poultry into the state is now only open to birds from facilities certified as free from the H5 and H7 influenza strains.

Exhibition events, shows, and fairs will be restricted to in-state birds only. No out-of-state birds will be allowed into Kentucky for exhibition purposes. All birds presented for exhibition shall be subject to inspection by Kentucky Department of Agriculture personnel.

There have been no detections in domestic flocks in Kentucky, but infection was confirmed in two wild birds in April.

“We are taking these steps out of an abundance of caution,” Dr Stout said.

“Poultry is Kentucky’s leading agricultural commodity, and we will do everything we can to keep our commercial and backyard poultry industries secure.”

Kentucky’s poultry industry generated an estimated $1.2 billion in farm cash receipts in 2013, the Kentucky office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service reported. Kentucky farmers produced 309 million broilers and more than 1.1 billion eggs in 2013.

Further Reading

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