|Credit Iowa State Center For Food Security & Public Health|
Although it poses only a minor threat to human health, Virulent Newcastle Disease can be up to 100% fatal in poultry, and is a serious threat to poultry interests world wide. In humans, the virus generally causes mild flu-like illness and/or conjunctivitis.
Yesterday the California Dept. of Food & Agriculture announced.
May 18, 2018: Virulent Newcastle Disease Confirmed in a Backyard Chicken Flock in Los Angeles County
The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has detected virulent Newcastle disease in a small flock of backyard exhibition chickens in Los Angeles County. The detection has been confirmed by the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). This is the first case of virulent Newcastle disease, previously referred to as exotic Newcastle disease, in the U.S. since 2003.
CDFA is working with federal and local partners as well as poultry owners to respond to the finding. State officials have quarantined potentially exposed birds and are testing for the disease.
It is essential that all poultry owners follow good biosecurity practices to help protect their birds from infectious diseases. 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. 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).
The last poultry outbreak in the United States was reported in 2003 (described below), although sporadic detections in wild birds have continued around the country. This also from the California Dept. of Food & Agriculture.
The 2002-03 END outbreak, originally confirmed in backyard poultry in Southern California, spread to commercial poultry operations in California and backyard poultry in Arizona, Nevada and Texas. The Governor of California declared a State of Emergency, the Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) declared an Extraordinary Emergency, and local emergencies were declared in San Diego, Riverside, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino Counties. A USDA and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Task Force was formed that involved over 7,000 individuals rotating in and out over the course of the outbreak. Trade restrictions resulting from the disease had negative impacts on California and U.S. poultry and egg producers. The outbreak, from discovery to eradication, lasted eleven months. The outbreak response led to the depopulation of 3.16 million birds at a cost of $161 million.In 1971, an outbreak that began in Southern California led to the culling of 12 million birds and a loss of tens of millions of dollars.
Yesterday APHIS/USDA also released the following statement.
While this is hopefully just an isolated incident, this outbreak reinforces the importance of maintaining proper biosecurity in all agricultural operations, and reminds us that exotic animal diseases - even those absent from the U.S. for 15 years - can always come back.
USDA Confirms Virulent Newcastle Disease in a Backyard Chicken Flock in California, Not a Food Safety ConcernContacts: Joelle Hayden
WASHINGTON, May 18, 2018 - The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed the presence of virulent Newcastle disease in a small flock of backyard exhibition chickens in Los Angeles County, California. It is important to note that the presence of the disease is not a food safety concern. This is the first case of virulent Newcastle disease, previously referred to as exotic Newcastle disease, in the U.S. 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 and/or influenza-like symptoms. Infection is easily prevented by using standard personal protective equipment.
APHIS is working closely with the California Department of Food and Agriculture to respond to the finding. Federal and State partners are also conducting additional surveillance and testing in the area.
It is essential that all bird owners follow good biosecurity practices to help protect their birds from infectious diseases. 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.
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 through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593. Additional information on biosecurity for backyard flocks can be found at Biosecurity for Birds website.
Virulent Newcastle disease is a contagious and fatal viral disease affecting the respiratory, nervous and digestive systems of birds and poultry. The disease is so virulent that many birds and poultry die without showing any clinical signs. A death rate of almost 100 percent can occur in unvaccinated poultry flocks. Virulent Newcastle disease can infect and cause death even in vaccinated poultry.
Clinical signs of virulent Newcastle disease include: sudden death and increased death loss in the flock; sneezing; gasping for air; nasal discharge; coughing; greenish, watery diarrhea; decreased activity; tremors; drooping wings; twisting of the head and neck; circling; complete stiffness; and swelling around the eyes and neck. Images of some of these signs are available here.