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July 2, 2019
Statement from California State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones
Thanks to cooperation from Southern California residents in very difficult circumstances, and a tremendous commitment from emergency response teams, the joint CDFA/USDA Virulent Newcastle Disease Project has found no new positive detections of the disease since June 4, 2019.
While this potentially moves us closer to eradication, we must emphasize that any subsequent detections would represent a significant setback.
This is an extremely critical time. It is imperative that bird owners continue to work together to ensure that previously-infected areas remain free from disease, and it is vital that all bird owners within the regional quarantine area of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties continue practicing enhanced biosecurity and do not move birds.
The VND project team will now survey and test in areas where disease has previously existed to make sure there are no remaining residual pockets of virus in poultry. However, it is important to recognize that the virus will remain in the environment for several more months, and that the risk of infection remains. If additional birds test positive, those birds and any exposed birds on adjacent properties will be euthanized.
Remember – we’re all in this together, and we must continue working together until virulent Newcastle disease is eradicated in California.
Attention: The United States Postal Service (USPS) is not allowing shipments of live birds (all) or hatching/embryonated eggs into or out of zip codes 90000-93599 in California. For more information: https://postalpro.usps.com/node/6643
The modified quarantine extends from the Northern and Southern borders of western Riverside County to the Salton Sea—including the Coachella Valley—and as far east as Yucca Valley in San Bernardino County, with a Northern boundary of State Route 58 at the Kern County line.
Unfortunately, even birds and flocks that previously tested negative, but now fall within a designated mandatory euthanasia area, must be euthanized. USDA/CDFA staff will contact affected bird owners with orders specific to their property.
By Gig Conaughton, County of San Diego Communications Office
February 28, 2019 (San Diego) - It still has not been detected here, but San Diego County officials are urging backyard bird owners to watch for virulent Newcastle disease, a highly contagious, agriculturally dangerous, bird-killing virus, after the state expanded its quarantine in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
San Diego County’s Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures (AWM) said bird owners should immediately contact the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) hotline at 866-922-BIRD (2473) if they spot symptoms in their birds including: coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, tremors, twisting of the neck and sudden death.
Virulent Newcastle is almost always fatal to birds, both domestic and wild. Chickens are particularly susceptible to the virus, and outbreaks ravaged California’s egg and poultry industry in 1971 and the early 2000s. There is no cure and even vaccinated flocks can carry the virus.
This week, CDFA expanded its quarantine to include all of Los Angeles County and large parts of San Bernardino and Riverside counties, near the San Diego County border. Officials said virulent Newcastle is spread mainly by people moving sick birds, most often chickens and roosters, and the only way the virus can be stopped is by euthanizing infected birds.
AWM officials said local bird owners can help protect their birds by:
Virulent Newcastle disease is not harmful to people, although in rare cases, people directly exposed to the virus can develop mild fevers and eye infections. The virus does not harm food if eggs and poultry are cooked properly.
The virus is extremely contagious and birds spread it to one another through direct contact, saliva and feces. However, the virus can also be carried to birds and flocks and from place to place by people, on clothing, shoes, automobile tires and equipment.
Previous outbreaks of the virulent Newcastle in California have been eradicated, but at great cost. According to CDFA, a virulent Newcastle disease outbreak in California in 1971 forced nearly 12 million birds to be euthanized at a cost of $56 million. In 2002-03, an outbreak that started in Southern California and spread to Arizona, Nevada and Texas forced 3.16 million birds to be euthanized at a cost of $161 million. Nearly 1 million birds have been euthanized in the current outbreak, which started in a backyard flock in Los Angeles County in May 2018.
The disease has been detected in four commercial operations, but has been mainly spread by backyard flocks, according to CDFA statistics.
Symptoms of virulent Newcastle disease include:
For more information, go to the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Virulent Newcastle Disease webpage.