Avian flu outbreak leads to cancellation of State Fair poultry exhibits


The Delaware State Fair is months away, but officials are taking no chances when it comes to bird flu and the region’s $3 billion poultry industry.

The Delaware Department of Agriculture, in consultation with the State Epidemiologist Office, has issued a directive for all live poultry competitions and exhibits at the 2022 Delaware State Fair to be canceled in 2022.

“With the United States continuing to have positive cases in commercial and backyard and wild bird populations, we have decided that the State Fair should not hold any exhibits of fowl out of an abundance of caution,” Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse said.

Avian influenza is a highly contagious airborne respiratory virus that spreads quickly among birds through nasal and eye secretions and manure. 

The 2022 outbreak has been reported in 29 states and more than 235 premises including commercial poultry and backyard flocks. Delaware and Maryland have seen cases in wild and domestic fowl.

With a high level of virus in the wild bird population, poultry that resides outdoors and commingles with wild birds are more susceptible.

“Working with the Delaware Department of Agriculture in protecting animal health and Delaware’s agriculture-based economy remain our top priorities,” said  Fair General Manager William J. DiMondi.  

HPAI was confirmed in a commercial poultry flock in New Castle County, Del., on February 23, triggering a state-federal response between the Delaware Department of Agriculture, Maryland Department of Agriculture, and USDA. The last confirmed case in Delaware was announced on March 17. While there have been no new cases in domesticated poultry in Delaware or Maryland, the uptick in wild bird detections indicates there is still a threat to poultry.