Fair goers at the Stokes County Fair, and other fairs throughout the state, might notice something missing from the agriculture lineup this year.
State Veterinarian Doug Meckes and Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler announced earlier this month that all North Carolina poultry shows and public live bird sales will be suspended from Aug. 15 to Jan. 15 due to the threat of highly pathogenic avian influenza. This includes the N.C. State Fair and Mountain State Fair poultry shows, bird shows at county fairs, live bird auctions and poultry swap meets.
The current strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza has been found in 21 states, mostly in the Midwest, and has not been detected in any state along the East Coast. This strain has not been found to affect human health and does not affect food safety. The virus is thought to be carried by migratory fowl, so veterinary officials are bracing for possible introduction of the virus during the fall migration.
“We did not make this decision lightly,” said Meckes. “Highly pathogenic avian influenza is a serious threat to our state’s poultry and we anticipate the threat of the virus will increase this fall. We want to take appropriate precautions to prevent the introduction to backyard and commercial flocks.”
The decision comes after department officials consulted with industry representatives, poultry specialists from N.C. State University, fair officials and other related parties. North Carolina joins at least 13 other states that have cancelled or altered poultry shows due to HPAI.
“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,” 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.”
More information about highly pathogenic avian influenza can be found at www.ncagr.gov/avianflu.