Oakland County Fair features enhanced animal safety measures amid Bird Flu concerns

Posted at 6:30 PM, Jul 08, 2024

DAVISBURG, Mich. (WXYZ) —  The Oakland County Fair is well underway, breaking attendance records and protecting visitors with new farm animal protections.

 The Bird flu continues to cause health alerts across the U.S. infecting humans and farm animals. Here in Michigan, two human cases of the virus have been reported in farm workers this year.

4-H Oakland County Youth Program Director Debbie Morgan says they found out just days before the fair started that they would be able to bring their birds and other animals to be showcased to the public.

"This year was a little tricky,” said Morgan. "They were gearing up for fair and keeping their fingers crossed that they would be able to show and luckily they were."

4-H participants were planning to show diagrams of their animals and other alternatives if health officials prohibited the showcase at the fair.

"They’re relieved because they put all these hours in and this is what they look forward to all year long," said Morgan.

That’s exactly why, Oakland County Fair Manager L.C. Scramblin says his crew scrambled to get the safety plans in order just in time.

There is mandated biosecurity signage and hand washing. Visitors are advised not to touch some of the animals.
“Just four or five 5 days before we opened so we had everybody on deck,” said Scramlin.

He says just about every year, there is some sort of crisis. Last year there was a swine flu outbreak. The years before they dealt with COVID-19.

“June 9th was the first date we had to make without a new break, without an outbreak and we did that and, of course, in the meantime, it had broke in the dairy cattle in Michigan so we had to watch that,” he said.

VIDEO: Michigan experts keeping close eye on avian flu cases impacting dairy cows:

Michigan experts keeping close eye on avian flu cases impacting dairy cows

Thankfully, Scramlin had the background knowledge to move quickly. He was on the state safety committee that established protocols after the bird flu outbreak in 2015.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration, the public health risk associated with these avian influenza detections remains low.

Poultry entries were higher than ever before at the fair. Attendance also broke records in the first three days. The last day is July 14.

“Teaching kids life skills is really what this fair is all about,” said Scramlin.