SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WMBD) — With concerns of avian influenza, or bird flu, spreading throughout the state, Illinois 4-H is moving away from the live format, making all county fair 4-H poultry shows virtual for the time being.

The change follows the continuation of emergency rules set in place by the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA), which prohibit the sale or exhibiting of poultry and poultry products at swap meets, exhibitions, flea markets, and auction markets.

Those rules took effect on April 5, effective for up to 150 days. IDOA chose to extend those restrictions Friday, but the department will continue to evaluate the situation in 45-day increments for up to 150 days based on the most up-to-date information.

Should the emergency rules get lifted, Illinois 4-H will return to live shows.

“We want all youth to know they will still have an opportunity to exhibit and share what they’ve learned in their 4-H poultry project this year,” said Dr. Lisa Diaz, University of Illinois Extension 4-H Director.

“The extended waterfowl migration, cooler average temperatures, and increased rainfall this spring, are factors contributing to the identification of additional detections in Illinois,” said Dr. Mark Ernst, IDOA State Veterinarian. “It is our hope that within the coming weeks, migration will be completed, the weather will be consistently warmer and drier, and the risk for spread will be dramatically lower.” 

Flock owners, managers, or veterinarians are encouraged to report any unusual findings in domestic poultry to the IDOA at 217-782-4944 or the USDA at 866-536-7593.

Unusual findings include, but are not limited to:

  • Increase in mortality
  • Decrease in water consumption
  • Decrease in egg production
  • Respiratory signs, including coughing and sneezing