Over 20 more cases of virulent Newcastle disease confirmed

pastured poultry chickens
(Farm and Dairy file photo)

During the week of Dec. 7 to 13, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service confirmed 24 additional cases of virulent Newcastle disease in backyard exhibition chickens in Riverside County, California.

Since May 18, USDA has confirmed 190 cases of virulent Newcastle disease in California — 104 in San Bernardino County, 46 in Riverside County, 39 in Los Angeles County and 1 in Ventura County.

Taking action

Affected flocks are quickly euthanized to help prevent additional disease spread and eradicate the disease more quickly.

USDA will announce confirmed virulent Newcastle disease 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 are available on USDA’s website at www.aphis.usda.gov/animalhealth/vnd.

More information

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. 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.

Information for bird owners

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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