The poultry barn will be conspicuously empty of birds this year at the Southwest Washington Fair at the recommendation of the Washington state Department of Agriculture (WSDA) in order to prevent the spread of avian influenza, also known as bird flu.
Market sales of birds at the fair will still take place with photographs of poultry.
This year’s fair will be held from Aug. 16-21.
WSDA’s recommendation was not a rule, and stated the decision could be made by counties on a fair-by-fair basis. Lewis County Parks and Recreation Director Connie Riker said on Wednesday the county chose to take this recommendation due to the high number of commercial and backyard poultry flocks in Lewis County.
“Unfortunately, once you have a single bird (with bird flu) on your farm your whole flock is destroyed,” Riker said.
She added that the risk of transmission from having birds at the fairgrounds was “very high” even through activities such as sharing equipment or having visitors go between birds, let alone transmission between birds in the close-quarters of the fair setting.
For questions on exhibitions at the fair, call the fair office at 360-740-1495.
The county currently has no reported cases of bird flu. In data from 2017 sent to The Chronicle by Lewis County Commissioner Lindsey Pollock — who is a veterinarian — the county’s highest grossing livestock product was poultry and eggs.
The bird flu virus can occur naturally in wild aquatic birds worldwide and can infect poultry and other bird and animal species. Wild aquatic birds include ducks, geese, swans, gulls and terns, and shorebirds.
To prevent the spread of bird flu, commercial and backyard flocks should be separated by species and kept isolated from wild birds.
Bird owners can prevent the spread of disease by keeping a separate set of shoes to wear only around their flocks, not sharing equipment between flocks, restricting access to poultry and keeping coops clean.
For more information on the bird flu, visit https://bit.ly/3ox7GeO.
To report any sick birds to the WSDA, call the department’s sick bird hotline at 1-800-606-3056.