Mich. waterfowl, poultry shows nixed to avoid avian flu

Jim Lynch
The Detroit News

State Veterinarian Dr. James Averill has moved to cancel all waterfowl and poultry exhibitions for the rest of 2015 in an effort to keep the disease-causing avian influenza from gaining a foothold in Michigan.

Averill’s decision, announced Monday afternoon, affects “shows, exhibitions, swap meets, petting zoos at fairs, game bird and waterfowl fair displays, and Miracle of Life exhibits.”

“We know the tremendous amount of time, money and passion the kids and other exhibitors invest into their birds and the importance of having livestock animals at these events to interact with the public,” Averill stated in a press release. “The rapid spread of these avian flu viruses is historic and has impacted more than a dozen states across the U.S. While there are currently no known cases of HPAI in Michigan, commitment to protecting the health of all of the state’s poultry flocks — backyard and commercial farmers — led us to making this difficult decision.”

Avian influenza has been detected in 20 U.S. states so far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Human cases have not been detected in the U.S. since the first bird infection was documented in December. Past human cases in other countries have resulted in serious illness and death.

In late May, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported avian influenza had been detected in 41 million birds.

“The impact this disease has had on the poultry industry and how quickly it is spreading is clear,” Lisa Reiff, executive director of the Michigan Association of Fairs and Exhibitions, said in a press release.

“While it’s unfortunate that poultry exhibitions are canceled for this year, it’s crucial youth still have an opportunity to participate in fair activities. MAFE is working with MDARD, MSU and 4-H to identify alternatives for poultry exhibitors and will use this opportunity to help further educate the public about our state’s poultry industry.”

JLynch@detroitnews.com

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