The sounds of hens clucking and roosters crowing won’t be heard at the Jackson County Fair this year.
That’s because a statewide ban that took effect Wednesday has led to the 4-H poultry show being canceled for this year’s fair, which begins July 26.
The ban is designed to stop the movement of certain types of birds to prevent the spread of H5 avian influenza virus or bird flu, which has killed tens of millions of chickens, turkeys and other birds across the nation, according to a news release from the Indiana State Board of Animal Health. The restriction includes county fairs, 4-H events, exhibitions and all events where live birds might commingle.
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Amy Nierman, extension educator for 4-H youth development in Jackson County, said it’s not easy to cancel one of the fun events at the fair for kids and teens.
“It will be disappointing for them to not be able to bring them, but I think they will understand,” Nierman said. “It’s to protect their birds and the poultry industry as a whole.”
Nierman said there were 22 Jackson County kids enrolled to participate in the poultry show this year, which includes chickens, ducks and turkeys.
Her plan was to talk to the 4-H council Thursday evening to see what else the kids can do.
“The kids will still be able to complete their project by filling out their bookwork and their record sheet,” she said. “Participants can also design a poster with educational information about poultry that will be exhibited at the fair.”
So far, 16 states, primarily in the upper Midwest, have had diagnosed cases resulting in the deaths of more than 40 million birds. Indiana had a single backyard flock diagnosed this month, according to the state’s news release.
The state’s restriction extends to public bird sales at flea markets, swap meets and sale barns but does not apply to private sales of birds between individuals. The ban likely will remain in place through the rest of the year.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wild birds worldwide get flu A infections in their intestines but usually do not get sick from them.
Avian influenza, however, is highly contagious among birds, and some of these viruses can make certain domesticated bird species, including chickens, ducks and turkeys, very sick and even kill them. Infected birds can spread influenza virus through their saliva, nasal secretions and feces.
The bird flu does not present a food safety threat for humans, and the CDC also reports the virus poses little risk to human health.
There will be a public comment opportunity in June to receive input from poultry owners and others about strategies to reopen public shows and sales.
Poultry owners who notice illness in their birds consistent with the bird flu should call the Healthy Birds Hotline at 866-536-7593 to speak with a state or federal veterinarian.
Hoosiers who notice five or more dead feeder-type wild birds should contact the Indiana Department of Natural Resources at 812-334-1137.
Information may be found at in.gov/boah/2390.htm.