There will be no chickens, turkeys, geese or ducks on display at this year’s Alaska State Fair in Palmer due to concerns about spreading bird flu, organizers announced on Thursday.
“This was a difficult decision for the Fair to make, but after evaluating the risks and benefits, and listening to the expert recommendations, we believe it is best to err on the side of caution in order to keep Alaska livestock healthy and food safe,” Jerome Hertel, the fair’s CEO, said in a statement.
Health officials say the bird flu is highly contagious and lethal among birds, while the risk to human health from the virus is very low.
The bird flu has affected more than 40 million poultry and 2,000 wild birds nationwide, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Alaska confirmed its first bird flu case in late April and has since reported about 100 additional infections in birds across the state, including chickens in the Mat-Su, bald eagles in the Aleutians, geese in Anchorage and ravens on the North Slope.
The Alaska State Fair will still have a baby chick exhibit this year, organizers say, because the disease does not impact chicks in the egg. Also, 4-H youth will have photos and descriptions of their birds that are for sale at the fair.
The Alaska State Fair runs from Aug. 19 to Sept. 5.
Bird flu concerns also prompted organizers of the Tanana Valley State Fair in Interior Alaska to ban poultry this year.