Avian flu prompts KDA to cancel poultry shows at fairs

The Kansas Department of Agriculture?s move to protect the Kansas poultry industry from avian flu by issuing a stop movement order was a biosecurity step, but it means more than 2,000 Kansas 4-H members will have to be creative with how they complete their poultry projects.

?Recently, the KDA decided to close all poultry shows where birds are brought together to reduce the chances of spreading highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza (HPAI),? said Kansas State Univer?sity animal scientist Scott Beyer, referring to the KDA?s June 15 implementation of a stop movement order.

The order means all types of poultry activities where birds from different flocks would be co-mingled are canceled for the rest of the year. That includes poultry competitions at county fairs, the Kansas State Fair, festivals, swap meets, exotic bird sales and auctions.

More than 46 million birds across the United States have been killed because of HPAI, but that does not mean they were all infected, Beyer said.

The virus has been found in poultry flocks in numerous states, including in northeast Kansas. In efforts to keep the disease from spreading, when the disease is detected in a flock, the whole flock is killed.

Although deadly to birds, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider the risk to humans from this particular virus to be low. Poultry, poultry products, and wild birds are safe to eat if they are properly handled and cooked to 165 degrees F, according to the U.S. Depart?ment of Agri?culture.

?This is good biosecurity,? said Beyer, a poultry specialist with K-State Research and Extension. ?Biosecurity is one of the reasons the U.S. poultry industry began raising birds in confinement. They are a species where wild birds can fly into flocks in open areas and bring potential diseases.?

Scientists believe U.S. poultry flocks were infected with HPAI by wild waterfowl, such as ducks and geese, migrating from one area to another earlier this year. More infections could occur during the fall migration.

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