W. Va. bans poultry and eggs from fairs

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. – With this year’s slate of fairs and festivals already under way, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture is reminding all poultry producers that no eggs or poultry – including chickens, turkeys, pigeons, doves for weddings, ostriches, emus, rosined exotic show birds – may be displayed publicly during the avian influenza outbreak in West Virginia.

Although the disease poses no threat to humans, it spreads rapidly among poultry and causes slowed growth and decreased egg production.

Official bans on bird and egg shows have been signed by Commissioner of Agriculture Gus R. Douglass and are on file in Secretary of State Joe Manchin’s office. The orders have the effect of law, and violators face misdemeanor charges.

“We want to let people know that the department of agriculture is serious about stopping avian influenza as quickly as possible,” said Douglass.

“We know that birds, eggs and the people who show them are routes for the spread of this disease, and I’m confident that everyone will cooperate while this situation is brought under control,” Douglass said.

Another of Douglass’ orders banned the importation of chicken litter from Virginia, where a mid-March outbreak of the disease has resulted in the quarantine of nearly 160 farms and the depopulation of almost 3.5 million birds.

The disease was discovered May 9 on a farm near Moorefield, W.Va. Douglass immediately quarantined the farm, and approximately 13,900 chickens were depopulated.

Samples from birds on farms within a two-mile radius of the quarantined farm came back negative. Further samples have been collected within a six-mile radius. Results of those tests are forthcoming.

The department also recommends that poultry farmers not travel to other farm unless absolutely necessary, that they keep litter on their own farms if at all possible, and that they not share or move equipment or vehicles between farms unless they have been thoroughly washed and sanitized.

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