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PA Farm Show Missing Poultry Exhibit Due To Avian Flu Concerns

Poultry specialist Paul Patterson at the 100th Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg, Pa.
Erin Cassidy Hendrick

At the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg, Paul Patterson, a poultry specialist in the Penn State department of Animal Science, stands under a large sign.

“The sign says, ‘why aren’t there any poultry at the fair this year?’ We have no ducklings, no baby chicks hatching and it’s because of avian influenza,” Patterson said.

In the spring of 2014, many poultry farms in the West and Midwest were infected with the avian flu. Brought by wild birds from Canada, about 48 million poultry in the US died or were euthanized to stop the spread.  

It never got to Pennsylvania, but just in case, the Department of Agriculture enacted a ban on poultry for farm shows to minimize the risk of an outbreak.

“When we hold our exhibits here, we have hundreds of people bringing birds from all over the state and the risk is that someone might have been exposed to the flu. And then that would spread amongst the other birds,” he said.

But things are looking up. The avian flu hasn’t been seen in the US since July 2015. Patterson says he’s confident the ban will be lifted and the 2017 farm show will feature birds once again.   

Erin Cassidy Hendrick was an associate producer at WPSU. She produced the programs “BookMark” and “This I Believe” for the station.
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