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State Fair cancels poultry shows with AI threat

by | Apr 29, 2022

All live poultry competitions and exhibits at the 2022 Delaware State Fair will be canceled in an effort to curb the spread of the highly pathogenic avian influenza. The current outbreak is different from 2015 with backyard flocks being affected. With a high level of virus in the wild bird population, poultry that resides outdoors and commingle with wild birds are more susceptible, according to animal health officials. (Delmarva Farmer file photo)

HARRINGTON, Del. — In an effort to curb the spread of the highly pathogenic avian influenza, the Delaware Department of Agriculture — after consultation with the State Epidemiologist Office — has issued a directive for all live poultry competitions and exhibits at the 2022 Delaware State Fair to be canceled for this summer.
“With the United States continuing to have positive cases in commercial and backyard and wild bird populations, we have decided that the State Fair should not hold any exhibits of fowl out of an abundance of caution,” stated Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse in a statement on April 25.
The 2022 HPAI outbreak has been extensive, so far impacting 29 states and more than 235 premises including commercial poultry and backyard flocks.
The current outbreak is different from 2015 with backyard flocks being affected.
With a high level of virus in the wild bird population, poultry that resides outdoors and commingle with wild birds are more susceptible.
Avian influenza is a highly contagious airborne respiratory virus that spreads quickly among birds through nasal and eye secretions and manure. 
“Working with the Delaware Department of Agriculture in protecting animal health and Delaware’s agriculture-based economy remain our top priorities,” commented Fair General Manager William J. DiMondi.   
HPAI was confirmed in a commercial poultry flock in New Castle County, Del., on Feb. 23, triggering a state-federal response between the Delaware Department of Agriculture, Maryland Department of Agriculture and USDA.
The last confirmed case in Delaware was announced on March 17.
While there have been no new cases in domesticated poultry in Delaware or Maryland, the uptick in wild bird detections indicates there is still a threat to poultry on Delmarva. 
As avian influenza “continues to impact poultry flocks across the state and nation, it is essential we take every possible step to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.  We certainly hope to return to a full run of all poultry exhibits at the 2023 Fair,” DiMondi said. 
The risk to public health is considered minimal and no human cases of HPAI have been reported in the United States. Avian influenza does not affect poultry meat or egg products, which remain safe to eat. 

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