NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – On Thursday, the Tennessee State Veterinarian announced that a strain of avian flu had sickened a poultry flock in West Tennessee. Because of that, the Tennessee State Department of Agriculture issued an order for an immediate halt to poultry shows, exhibitions, and sales statewide.

So what does this mean for you?

The first question you might ask is, ‘Does this affect chickens at the grocery store?’ The good news is that the answer is no!

“As far as consumer concerns, there’s no danger to consuming poultry,” explained Dr. Samantha Beaty, D.V.M. / Tennessee State Veterinarian, Tennessee Department of Agriculture. “There should be no infected animals in the food chain at any rate, but the idea that you could be impacted by eating poultry is a fallacy, and so everything you see at the grocery store is safe.”

This is also good news for local poultry farmers who sell processed chickens to the stores.

Karen Overton with Wedge Oak Farm in Lebanon sells about three to four thousand processed chickens a year.

“Our chickens go to processing at a USDA inspected processing plant, and when they come back they look just like what you get in the grocery store,” Overton explained. “So, all of our birds are inspected at that point, and as long as they are healthy, they will be processed and I will bring them back and put them in the freezer. So, it doesn’t necessarily affect the sale of my product. We sell at a farmer’s market, and I sell to several restaurants in Nashville.”

It’s also not an issue for her sale of eggs. So who is affected by this order?

“We are going to cease any co-mingling of birds for the foreseeable future,” Dr. Beaty said. “And that includes shows, exhibitions, fairs, markets, and flea markets.”

And backyard poultry farmers should take some precautions to protect their birds.

“As we see southern migration of birds for the winter, we will see wild birds introducing the virus into your environment,” Dr. Beaty explained. “So, you want to make sure to deter wild birds”.

Farmers should also sterilize their shoes before they enter the pen with the birds and after they exit.