Iowa’s ban on live poultry exhibitions, swap meets, exotic sales, and other gatherings of birds is ending on New Year’s Day.
The final poultry operation that was infected with avian flu came out of quarantine this month, and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship says it considers gatherings of live birds to be safe now.
“We are certainly still concerned about the possibility of bird flu,” says Ag Secretary Bill Northey. “But we are believing right now that we don’t have the disease here in Iowa in either the backyard or the commercial flocks that are out there. And so, it’s ok to be able to start having exhibitions again.”
Several states have lifted similar bans, including Michigan last week and Minnesota earlier this month.
It is believed that H5N2, the strain of avian flu that infected more than 200 flocks nationwide still exists in wild bird population; therefore, there is a chance of the disease reemerging in commercial flocks especially during spring migration. Northey declined to say if new infections would result in a reinstatement of the ban, though he left open the possibility.
Due to the ban, this year was the first time live poultry wasn’t shown at the Iowa State Fair since 1904 when poultry was first exhibited.
The spring 2015 outbreak of avian flu was the largest in U.S. history. More the 48 million birds nationwide died. Over 31.5 million were in Iowa.