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Avian Flu Outbreak Forces Cancellation of Poultry Exhibition at State Fair

Amy Mayer
Turkeys lost to bird flu can often be composted right in the barns where they perished. Corn stover may help accelerate the process.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture is canceling all live bird exhibitions at the Iowa State Fair, county fairs and other gatherings of birds in an effort to contain the spread of H5N2, a deadly bird flu that's led to the euthanization of more than 25 million poultry in the state. 

Scientists are still unsure exactly how the disease is spreading. The department’s order begins immediately and is effective through the end of 2015. 

"We believe it's just too much risk right now bringing a bunch of poultry producers together and their birds as well. If the disease is out there, it could be spread easily around the farms," says Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey.  

The order also prohibits live birds from being sold at livestock auction markets, swap meets, and exotic sales. The virus has so far been detected at more than 60 farms in Iowa. 

Northey made his comments on Iowa Public Radio's River to River. Hear the full interview above. 

Lindsey Moon is IPR's Senior Digital Producer
Pat Blank is the host of All Things Considered