Why is it that poultry kids get cut from the fair do to the chicken virus but...

Asked June 3, 2015, 9:26 AM EDT

Why is it that poultry kids get cut from the fair do to the chicken virus but mad cow disease is local too?

Tuscarawas County Ohio

1 Response

That is a great question. Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), also known as Mad Cow disease, is a slowly progressing neurological disease that can be exhibited in cattle that are almost exclusively 2 years and older. The disease is believed to be caused by an abnormal or altered protein called a "prion" in the brain. BSE is NOT transmittable from animal to animal; it is not contagious among animals. On the other hand, Highly Pathnogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) is highly contagious through direct contact (bird to bird) or indirect contact (surfaces and other contaminants). Therefore, the concern with poultry at fairs is that many birds would be in close contact with one another setting up perfect conditions for spread of disease. Since it typically takes 6 to 8 days for a 95% mortality rate in a flock, all poultry exhibits would be dead before they could go to the sale ring. Granted, there have been no reports in Ohio of HPAI but since the disease is spread through wild birds (migrating overhead), backyard flocks and 4-H projects would be highly susceptible since they have the opportunity to come into contact with wild birds. Indiana and Michigan have also banned poultry exhibits at state and county fairs this year in an effort to prevent the spread of disease. If you have questions about alternatives for poultry 4-H exhibitors please contact your local 4-H educator at 330-339-2337.