Free avian flu testing for the fair

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Logan and Lillian Brinkman pose with their award-winning chickens during the 2017 Boundary County Fair. There is free Avian Influenza testing available for the 2019 Boundary County Fair. Photo by MANDI BATEMAN

BONNERS FERRY — As the Boundary County Fair approaches, entrants are getting their ducks in a row — or any other poultry — that may be competing this year. One of the steps for this is getting the poultry tested for Avian influenza (AI), commonly known as “bird flu” or “avian flu.”

“Avian flu testing is required to bring any poultry to the fair,” said Amy Tye, Boundary County Fair poultry superintendent.

Avian influenza is caused by a virus that can infect both domesticated and wild birds. Domestic birds can include chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, ducks, geese and guinea fowl.

The virus strains are classified into two groups by the ability of the virus to produce disease in domestic chickens. The highly pathogenic (HPAI) virus strains are extremely infectious and are often fatal to domestic poultry. They can spread rapidly from flock to flock. The low pathogenic (LPAI) virus strains and naturally occurring in wild birds do not cause illness, but can be capable of mutating into HPAI viruses.

While the cost for testing each bird can be expensive, entrants to the poultry competition have the opportunity to have their birds tested at no cost to them on July 24, from 2-6 p.m. at the Boundary County Extension office, located behind the Boundary County Courthouse.

“Birds are harmlessly throat swabbed and banded; this band must remain on the bird’s leg up to and throughout the duration of the fair,” Tye said. “If your bird does test positive, you will be notified via phone before fair time; no call is good news.”

There are a limited number of cages available for Open Class entries at the fair. Tye will be on hand to record each bird as they get tested and reserve them a cage.

Tye stressed that it’s important to get birds tested for avian influenza even if you do not plan on entering the fair.

“Not all birds in a flock need to be tested however; I believe just a random sampling of 30 percent of your flock is sufficient to encompass all the birds a person owns,” Tye said.

Some exciting new special awards will join the lineup for poultry contestants this year at the fair. Joining the award for Top Hen, will be Top Rooster and Most Exotic. The top hen and rooster will each receive a $15 certificate from General Feed and Grain. The winner of Most Exotic will receive a 10-piece chicken dinner from Chic n’ Chop.

“The poultry barn is always a favorite for young and old alike,” Tye said. “We want to see it full of the most beautiful birds in the county, so mark your calendar with this important date.”

The Boundary County Fair will take place this year from Aug. 14-17.

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