As far as the Old West is concerned, few cowtowns are more notorious than Abilene, Kansas. Oddly enough, when my youngest son and I went to the former stomping grounds of Wild Bill Hickok for a little day trip, one of the things that caught my attention was the presence of poultry.

After a one-year hiatus, poultry exhibitions have returned to the Central Kansas Free Fair in Abilene – and other county and state fairs across the country. In fact, you can hardly do a Google news search for the word “poultry” these days without seeing report after report of how poultry exhibits have returned to the fair after fears of the spread of avian influenza prompted most states to ban them.

Industry avian flu response helped bring poultry back to fairs

Many of those fairs could have been forced to cancel its poultry shows during the 2016 season had it not been for the excellent response, control and cooperation demonstrated by U.S. poultry industry, veterinarians, and state and federal agencies since the 2015 avian influenza outbreak.

Let’s recap what happened earlier in 2016.

H7N8 avian influenza was confirmed in 10 Indiana turkey farms in January. At the time, there was a sense of nervousness that we were going to be poised for a repeat of what happened the year before. But it never spread beyond the county where those ten farms were located.

Then, in early May, low pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza was found in a commercial turkey farm in Jasper County, Missouri, which is not far from the Kansas border. However, the virus never spread beyond the initial 39,000 turkeys affected at that farm.

My hat’s off to all those responsible for preventing avian influenza to do to the industry what it did in 2015.