TAZEWELL, Va. —Area breeders of chickens, ducks and other fowl don’t have much to worry about, but they’re out of luck if they hoped to show off a prized bird at a county fair.

The recent discovery of avian influenza antibodies in a flock of turkeys being bred at a Shenandoah County farm prompted Virginian officials to ban all live poultry shows and sales until the end of July. This was done to prevent a major outbreak of the disease.

Agents with the Virginia Tech Extension Service in Tazewell County did not expect the flu to be a major problem for local producers.

“We’re not a big poultry producer in Southwest Virginia,” said extension agent Mike Harris. “The effect is going to be minimal.”

The region’s only “decent sized” poultry operation is near Abingdon, Va., Harris said. Most local breeders have only backyard flocks of chickens or other fowl. The statewide ban of poultry shows would affect local owners.

Humans have nothing to fear, Harris said. While the disease is a “low pathogen” type that’s highly contagious among fowl, it does not harm humans.

“There’s absolutely no threat to people. It’s not the Asian bird flu that’s been in the news the last two or three years,” he said. “It will wipe out any profitable production, but there’s no threat to humans at all.”

Unless a new outbreak of the avian flu is detected, the ban on poultry shows will last until the end of July, Harris said.

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