USDA confirms 66th case of virulent Newcastle disease

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pastured poultry chickens
(Farm and Dairy file photo)

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service confirmed two additional cases of virulent Newcastle disease in backyard exhibition chickens in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, California.

Since May 18, USDA has confirmed 66 cases of virulent Newcastle disease in backyard birds in California — 57 in San Bernardino County, 5 in Riverside County and 4 in Los Angeles County.

A complete list of confirmed cases is available on our website at www.aphis.usda.gov/animalhealth/vnd.

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

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.

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.

Symptoms

If you see any of the following signs in your birds, they could be sick and should be checked out:

  • Sudden death and increased death loss in flock;
  • Sneezing, gasping for air, nasal discharge, coughing;
  • Greenish, watery diarrhea;
  • Decreased activity, tremors, drooping wings, twisting of head and neck, circling, complete stiffness; and
  • Swelling around the eyes and neck.

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