The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is tightening restrictions on live bird exhibitions in response to recent outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). Yesterday (Thursday), state officials announced an order prohibiting nearly all non-essential poultry events and gatherings. The order includes all live bird exhibitions at fairs and the sale or transfer of poultry at livestock auction markets, swap meets, and exotic sales. The order is effective immediately and will remain active until at least 30 days have passed without confirmation of a new HPAI outbreak in an Iowa commercial or backyard flock. A nearly identical order was instituted from March 23 through June 3 of this year in response to a previous bird flu outbreak in the U.S. that led to the deaths of an estimated 50 million birds, including more than 14 million in Iowa. Flock owners are strongly encouraged to prevent contact with wild birds and monitor their poultry for unusual illnesses or deaths. Suspected cases should be reported to their local veterinarian, the Iowa Department of Agriculture, and the USDA. While HPAI is highly contagious among bird populations, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes the illness does not present a public health concern for humans. For more information, follow the links included below.