Red River Valley Fair poultry exhibit canceled due to avian flu
WEST FARGO, N.D. -- Organizers for the Red River Valley Fair say concerns over the spread of avian flu forced them to cancel this year's poultry exhibit. The ongoing outbreak of bird flu has led to the destruction of nearly 26 million turkeys and...
WEST FARGO, N.D. -- Organizers for the Red River Valley Fair say concerns over the spread of avian flu forced them to cancel this year's poultry exhibit.
The ongoing outbreak of bird flu has led to the destruction of nearly 26 million turkeys and chickens nationwide, with the majority of the 133 detections reported in Minnesota, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. There have been two cases reported in North Dakota, the USDA says.
The North Dakota State Board of Animal Health has stopped bird movement to shows, exhibitions and public sales within the state in which birds from different locations are intermingled at an event.
"The state board is taking this precaution to reduce the risk of avian influenza exposure to North Dakota birds," said State Veterinarian Dr. Susan Keller. "Mixing birds could unnecessarily increase the risk of exposure."
Minnesota State Fair organizers are seriously considering whether to cancel their poultry exhibition, based on how quickly bird flu is spreading, said fair spokeswoman Brienna Schuette. They are consulting with avian experts at the University of Minnesota and veterinarians at the Minnesota State Board of Animal Health and expect to have a decision by early to mid-summer.
Red River Valley Fair General Manager Bryan Schulz said the guide to the fair set for July 7-12 had already been published when organizers decided to cancel poultry exhibits. No entries from local exhibitors were taken, but "word was out there we were going to have a show, then had to cancel," Schulz said.
Jodi Buresh, the Red River Valley Fair's assistant manager, said the spread of bird flu gives fair organizers an opportunity to educate the public about viruses and their role in agriculture.
The live egg-hatching and live egg poultry displays will also be eliminated in the Ag Education Center, but Buresh said fair organizers are busy revamping their poultry exhibit and plan to provide information to visitors about avian influenza.
The fair has previously canceled its live animal displays because of viruses, Buresh said. Fair organizers canceled newborn piglet displays in 2014 based on concerns over the spread of swine flu.
Buresh said the three strains of bird flu now circulating in the U.S. are not considered threats to human health, and can be killed by cooking chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.