Bird Flu Affecting Local Events

Purdue Extension LogoThe Indiana State Board of Animal Health is taking steps to limit the spread of avian influenza.

During a special meeting this week, the Board decided to cease all bird movements to events that allow co-mingling. That includes shows, exhibitions, and public sales.

The new restrictions will affect Starke County fairs for the time being. Purdue Extension’s 4H Programming Assistant Marilyn Wickert says 4H is working to manage the situation, such as providing educational displays and bringing in speakers to the fairs.

“The state is helping us with some of those ideas and we’re also consulting some other counties to see what they might do,” says Wickert.

In a statement released by the Board of Animal Health, a veterinarian called the spread of the H5 avian flu virus “unprecedented.”

The disease does not present any danger to food safety, meaning it’s still safe for human consumption. The risk for the disease to affect human health is also considered very low, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Disallowing public events for birds won’t affect 4H students, at least in Starke County, as many of the tasks required for participation can be managed by simply answering questions in their manuals.

Wickert says a lot of the 4H learning experience comes from caring for the animals.

“Exhibiting is a part of what 4H is, but it is also learning how to care for animals, learning responsibility,” says Wickert.

16 states have been affected by the spread of H5 avian influenza.

Purdue Extension in Starke County says they should have more decisions made about the 4H fair in the next few weeks.