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Western Idaho Fair sets up avian flu precautions prior to competitions

The last known case of bird flu in the Gem State was reported on May 24, according to the Idaho Department of Agriculture.

BOISE, Idaho — The Western Idaho Fair (WIF) is putting a few precautions in place as a response to concerns surrounding the avian flu outbreak earlier this year throughout Idaho.

The fair opens its gates August 19. They expect to see around 150 birds enter for competitions, according to WIF Premium Office Coordinator Hans Bruijn.

WIF has worked closely with the Idaho State Veterinarian’s office, Bruijn said. Under the state vet's direction, every bird entered in a competition at the fair must be tested for the avian flu.

Bruijn has emailed these details to each person signed up for competitions - that includes those involved with 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) programs.

The Western Idaho Fair is making an effort to limit the number of times people touch the birds. Birds will also have empty cages between each other as a buffer zone. Bruijn recommends anyone who touches a bird to wash their hands; this is advice he recommends in general when touching any animal at the fair.

Bruijn has worked for the fair for 16 years. The precautions have added to his workload; however, this isn't exactly new to his line of work.

"One year it may be something with rabbits and one year may be something with horses. We're taking all the precautions," Bruijn said. "We have a veterinarian who comes here every day. He walks around the barns and makes sure that everything is healthy. So yeah, we do take it very seriously."

The last documented case of avian flu was reported on May 24, according to the Idaho Department of Agriculture. The outbreak affected 988 Idaho birds in total.

Avian flu is deadly for birds, but it is extremely rare for the virus to spread to people.

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