The Thayer County Fair will be keeping its poultry show this year but with one small change: no live birds.
The reason being? The recent HPAI H5, or avian flu, outbreak has many worried about the health of the birds, though only one county in Nebraska had confirmed cases of the disease.
“The decision was made for us by the Department of Agriculture and the state vet,” said Crystal Fangmeier, Extension Office associate.
Many fairs across the nation are cancelling their poultry shows but others, such as Thayer County, are getting creative as to how to still incorporate the program.
Thayer County will have kids present their birds using photos and technology, such as PowerPoint. The fair will also hold an educational exhibit, a skill-a-thon and an opportunity to show eggs.
Nebraska was one of several states nationwide that has confirmed HPAI H5 in poultry. Farms in Iowa, Minnesota, Idaho, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Indiana, Wisconsin, Kansas, Oregon, Missouri, Washington and California have been affected by the outbreak that began at the end of December.
According to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, six cases have been identified. The infected flocks were found in Dixon County, located in the northeastern part of the state. One flock size had up to
1.8 million chickens. A flock in Knox County was tested for three weeks then released from quarantine on July 18 after tests did not confirm infection.
After cases were confirmed in Nebraska, Gov. Ricketts signed an avian influenza emergency declaration.
According to Fangmeier, all poultry shows have been cancelled until January 2016. This will include the state fair and AKSARBEN Stock Show as well.
The Centers for Disease Control considers the risk to people from HPAI H5 infections to be low.
As part of the existing USDA avian influenza response plans, federal and state partners as well as industry are following these five basic steps:
1) Quarantine and restrict the movement of poultry and poultry-moving equipment into and out of the control area
2) Humanely euthanizing the affected flock(s)
3) Monitor the region by testing wild and domestic birds in a broad area around the quarantine area
4) Disinfect the affected flock locations
5) Test to confirm that the poultry farm is AI virus-free.
There are currently 20 farms being quarantined in Dixon County.