Fair organizers take measures to prevent spread of bird flu - WNEM TV 5

Fair organizers take measures to prevent spread of bird flu

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County fairs provide carnival food and rides, but the most popular draw are the animals.

Children in 4-H spend hours preparing to showcase their animals.

"You feed them, water them, nurture them, everything," said Samantha Whitehead, a 4-H member.

While there's plenty of noise coming from the pigs at the Shiawassee County Fair, there's an eerie silence in what usually would be a boisterous barn.

"We only had a week to come up with this," said Renea Slovak, Shiawassee County fair poultry superintendent. "By taking this precaution, we rule out any chance of anything being spread."

This year, 8-by-10 portraits are hung on the wall in the poultry barn this year as a safe-guard from what would be a disaster.

Live birds are banned as officials work to prevent the spread of the avian flu.

"If one bird was to have it, every bird would have to be killed," said Samantha Whitehead, a 4-H member.

While the disease has minimal impacts on humans, it is easily spread between birds and is deadly. 

Entire flocks are exterminated if an animal contracts it. Michigan has had confirmed cases in free-ranging geese, but it has not impacted domestic flocks.

"I'd rather lose my two birds a week earlier than lose my 20 birds I have at home," Whitehead said.

This year fair organizers said the risk isn't worth the reward. 

Last week, 4-H members had their birds judged in a wide-open field. After they were judged, the birds were destroyed as a precaution.

But the meat will still be auctioned off.

"I think they've learned something, it's not just, it's sad they couldn't bring their birds, but I think still they're taking something home," Slovak said.

The hope is next year, there won't be these displays, but rather live chickens and several coops. 

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