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Poultry Banned From Upcoming Ohio Fairs

As many as 50 million chickens have died of avian flu since late 2014.
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As many as 50 million chickens have died of avian flu since late 2014.

In an effort to keep the nationwide outbreak of avian flu virus out of the state, the Ohio Department of Agriculture is banning poultry shows at every Ohio fair through at least the end of the year.

The recent outbreak of the H5 virus has killed up to 50 million chickens and turkeys in the U.S., but none in Ohio so far. State veterinarian Dr. Tony Forshey says there will be an increased risk during the upcoming fall migration season.

“This virus is a very hearty virus, and we may have it for a few years,” he says. “We don’t know. It has no need to mutate, or resort, or change at this point because it’s alive and well.”

The local Greene County Fair board met last week to determine a plan for the kids in 4H who normally present the birds they’ve raised at the fair.

“We’ll have some kind of a knowledge test, or something so we make sure the kids are still completing the poultry project, learning something from it,” says Jeff Barr, director of Greene County Agricultural Society, which organizes the fair.

While the ban is unfortunate for young people raising birds, the state says the restrictions are an effort to protect the 14,600 jobs and$2.3 billion in economic impact attributed to poultry farms provide the state’s economy.