Virulent Newcastle's Disease is Still at Large
Update from March 13, 2019:
Virulent Newcastle Disease has now been confirmed in one case from Alameda County.At this moment, CDFA and USDA are not aware of any other cases in Northern California, but are very actively investigating.
Below are some resources on best practices to protect your birds:
Update from Winter 2019:
To support our disease containment and eradication efforts, the CA State Veterinarian is recommending that all poultry exhibitions that include birds from high-risk counties (Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura) be cancelled. An exhibition is an assembly of birds (including but not limited to poultry) brought to the assembly location for purposes that include public display for any duration. These can be auctions, shops, pet marts, cock fights, petting zoos, or more.
- Over 350 confirmed cases have been reported in Southern California including 4 commercial poultry farms. An additional case in Utah has been reported and is believed to be linked to Southern California.
- Infected flocks have been immediately euthanized to prevent further contamination. Approximately 1,000,000 backyard and commercial birds have been euthanized as a result.
- USDA is announcing confirmed cases weekly. These can be found here: www.aphis.usda.gov/animalhealth/vnd.
- Samples are tested by the California Animal Health & Food Safety Laboratory System (CAHFS), and confirmed by the APHIS national lab in Iowa.
- Human infection is rare and can be prevented by properly cooking poultry products and wearing personal protective equipment when handling poultry.
- Please report sick birds or unusual deaths!
- USDA's toll free number: 1-866-536-7593
For more information regarding Virulent New Castle Disease, please see below:
Virulent Newcastle Disease is a highly contagious and deadly virus in birds; the virus is found in respiratory discharges and feces. Clinical signs in birds include:
- nasal discharge
- green watery diarrhea
- neck twisting
- muscle tremors
- decreased egg production
- swelling around eyes and neck
- sudden death
Example of twisted neck (PC: Pamela Hullinger).
It is essential that all poultry owners follow good biosecurity practices to help protect their birds from infectious diseases such as Newcastle. These include simple steps like washing hands and scrubbing boots before and after entering a poultry area; cleaning and disinfecting tires and equipment before moving them off the property; and isolating any birds returning from shows for 30 days before placing them with the rest of the flock.
For backyard flock owners, biosecurity measures are to use dedicated shoes and clothes when caring for them and not to use/wear those clothes/shoes in other areas.
Additional information on biosecurity can be found at:
In addition to practicing good biosecurity, all bird owners should report sick birds or unusual bird deaths through California’s Sick Bird Hotline at 866-922-BIRD (2473). Additional information on VND and biosecurity for backyard flocks can be found at CDFA's Virulent Newcastle Disease Updates webpage.
Sick or dead backyard birds can be submitted to CAHFS laboratories for post-mortem examination ($20 plus shipping and handling). Information on this program can be found on the CAHFS website. The test requested would be a "Necropsy exam - Backyard birds" (Test Code 10843).
For additional information on who to contact for issues regarding backyard poultry, see Find an Expert or contact Dr. Maurice Pitesky at 530-219-1407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Virulent Newcastle disease is not a food safety concern. No human cases of Newcastle disease have ever occurred from eating poultry products. Properly cooked poultry products are safe to eat. In very rare instances people working directly with sick birds can become infected. Symptoms are usually very mild, and limited to conjunctivitis and/or influenza-like symptoms. Infection is easily prevented by using standard personal protective equipment.
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