Incidence of virulent Newcastle disease continues to grow

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Virulent Newcastle Disease chicken
Clinical signs of virulent Newcastle disease include open mouth breathing with moderate swelling of the comb and wattles.

Last week, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service confirmed thirteen additional cases of virulent Newcastle disease in backyard exhibition chickens in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties, California.

Over the past few weeks, the response team has intensified its efforts and identified additional cases of vND within existing disease-control areas. Once identified, the affected flocks are quickly euthanized. Together, these actions will help prevent continued disease spread and eradicate the disease more quickly.

USDA is announcing confirmed vND cases weekly. Cases are still being tested and confirmed as they are identified. If there is a finding in a new state or a different segment of the industry, USDA will issue an announcement for that case immediately. A complete list of confirmed cases is available on USDA’s website.

More information

Virulent Newcastle disease has not been found in commercial poultry in the United States since 2003.

No human cases of virulent 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. Infection is easily prevented by using standard personal protective equipment.

Samples from the flocks were tested at the California Animal Health & Food Safety Laboratory System (CAHFS). The APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, confirms all findings. APHIS is working closely with the California Department of Food and Agriculture to respond to these findings and to conduct an epidemiological investigation. Federal and State partners are also conducting additional surveillance and testing in the area.

In addition to practicing good biosecurity, all bird owners should report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to State/Federal officials, either through their state veterinarian or USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593. Additional information on biosecurity for backyard flocks can be found at Biosecurity for Birds.

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