Poultry and eggs banned from exhibition at Pennsylvania fairs due to bird flu

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Grand Champion Chicken Pen
Julia Wright's grand champion pen of chickens sold for $15/pound to Diamond Milling - New Brighton at the Big Knob Fair in 2021.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture announced on April 14 a temporary quarantine order banning the exhibition of poultry and eggs at county and local fairs in Pennsylvania.

The ban, in response to the threat of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, takes effect April 16 and will last for 60 days or until the department rescinds the order.  

The temporary ban prohibits the presence and display of poultry and poultry products, including eggs, feathers and other parts and items made of these parts. The ban applies to the 108 county and local fairs that receive state funding under the Pennsylvania Agricultural Fair Act.

“Pennsylvania’s agricultural fairs are important educational events for our youth,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said, in a statement. “But the risk to our poultry farmers and our economy outweighs the benefit of displaying poultry at fairs when avian influenza is an imminent threat. The very real experience of weighing risks against benefits is also a tremendously important part of an agricultural education.”

Pennsylvania has not had a confirmed case of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in commercial or backyard poultry since an outbreak in the 80’s. Infected birds have been found in flocks in 26 states, including most states surrounding Pennsylvania in this current outbreak. 

The bird flu was confirmed in a wild bird in Chester County in late March. Avian influenza viruses are naturally occurring and ever-present in wild birds, who often do not appear sick and spread the virus in their droppings and wherever they land. Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza is highly contagious and often fatal to domestic birds, including chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, guinea fowl, quail, pheasants, emus and ostriches.

Thus, safeguards must be taken to protect domestic birds. 

Anyone visiting a farm should be aware that their vehicles and shoes may carry the virus from other places they have walked. Clean them thoroughly and stay away from poultry barns unless you have to be there. 

If you have backyard chickens – pets or birds raised for show – keep them indoors and protect them from contamination by wild birds or their droppings. If you have domestic birds, report sick domestic birds or unusual deaths in your flock 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to the PA Dept. of Agriculture at 717-772-2852 or email RA-ahds@pa.gov. 

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