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State veterinarian issues restrictions on poultry events, exhibitions and fairs in Wisconsin

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MADISON — Two months after avian influenza led to the depopulation of more than 1.7 million chickens and turkeys in Wisconsin, the state veterinarian has issued two orders restricting participation in poultry events, exhibitions and fairs in Wisconsin.

The first is a ban on poultry moving to, or participation in, any swap meets or open shows in Wisconsin that are not held as part of a county, district or state fair. Another requires fair organizers to have exhibitor’s certify that there have been no poultry mortalities on their premises for the 10 calendar days prior to moving their poultry to the event.  Both orders will expire on December 31, 2015.

“We evaluated the risk of these different events, and steps the participants could take to lower the risk even more, when determining how to frame these orders,” said Dr. Paul McGraw, Wisconsin State Veterinarian.  “We determined that county, district and state fairs present a low risk of spreading avian influenza when the exhibitors certify that they have not had any mortalities within ten days.”

These measures are being implemented in an effort to prevent any further spread of H5N2 avian influenza.  Wisconsin had its first confirmation of the disease on April 13 and its last on May 4.  The decision was made after careful consideration and consultation with representatives from the poultry industry, show coordinators and fair organizers.

“We understand that youth and adults alike invest quite a bit of time and care to prepare their birds for exhibiting at fairs, but we must also protect the rest of the poultry in Wisconsin, so it was a challenging decision,” McGraw said.  “Ultimately, it is our responsibility to protect the poultry industry in Wisconsin and the contribution that the industry makes to our economy.”

All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard enthusiasts, need to continue practicing good biosecurity, preventing contact between their birds and wild birds, and reporting sick birds or unusual bird deaths to your veterinarian and the DATCP’s Animal Health division at 1-800-572-8981.

Additional information and resources concerning avian influenza can be found on DATCP’s web site at datcp.wi.gov.