Mid-State Fair

Mid-State Fair is canceling youth poultry shows to prevent this deadly bird virus

What’s up with the roosters roaming around Arroyo Grande?

A brightly colored flock of roosters inhabits Heritage Park in downtown Arroyo Grande. They began appearing in the SLO County area in the 1990s.
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A brightly colored flock of roosters inhabits Heritage Park in downtown Arroyo Grande. They began appearing in the SLO County area in the 1990s.

A highly contagious virus is ruffling feathers at the California Mid-State Fair.

The Paso Robles fair announced on Tuesday that it’s canceling youth poultry shows this summer for all fowl species due to concerns about a recent outbreak of virulent Newcastle disease affecting birds throughout California, according to a news release.

“The California Mid-State Fair joins numerous other fairs and poultry organizations in the state in canceling their poultry shows and exhibits,” fair spokesman Tom Keffury wrote in Tuesday’s release. “Although this decision is disappointing for our exhibitors and fair guests, it is in the best interest of the community and the California poultry industry.”

The decision was based on recommendations from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), expanding poultry quarantine areas in Southern California and concerns raised by a recent case of virulent Newcastle disease in Alameda County, according to the release.

The virus causes sudden death as well as respiratory problems, diarrhea, decreased activity and swelling around the eyes and neck, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). It spreads when healthy poultry come in contact with fluids from sick birds.

Virulent Newcastle disease does not cause food safety issues — no human cases of the disease have been caused by eating poultry products, according to the CDFA.

In rare cases, humans exposed to infected birds may experience inflammation or mild fever-like symptoms that typically subside without treatment, the agency said.

The USDA has confirmed 422 cases of virulent Newcastle disease in California since May 18, mostly in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

The disease has prompted the euthanasia of more than 1 million birds in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties, the release said.

Although youth poultry shows are canceled for the 2019 fair, which runs July 17-28 at the Paso Robles Event Center, the Mid-State Fair hopes to resume its poultry shows in 2020, according to the release.

For more information on virulent Newcastle disease, visit the CDFA website at cdfa.ca.gov/ahfss/animal_health/newcastle_disease_info.html.

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Lindsey Holden writes about housing and everything in between for The Tribune in San Luis Obispo. She also covers communities in northern San Luis Obispo County. Lindsey became a staff writer in 2016 after working for the Rockford Register Star in Illinois. She’s a native Californian raised in the Midwest and is a proud graduate of two Chicago schools: DePaul University and Northwestern University.