Nearly 8 months ago (May 18th), in APHIS: USDA Confirms Virulent Newcastle Disease In Backyard Flock - California, we learned of the first outbreak of highly virulent Newcastle disease in U.S. poultry in 15 years.
Prior to that, the last poultry outbreak in the United States had been reported in 2003 (described below), although sporadic detections in wild birds have continued around the country.
This from the California Dept. of Food & Agriculture (Note: vND was called END or Exotic Newcastle Disease at the time)
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.Prior to that - 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.
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.
While concerning, up until mid-December all of the 200+ detections of the virus reported since May of 2018 had only been in backyard poultry. No commercial poultry producers had been affected.
That changed on December 14th when the virus was discovered in commercial table egg pullets in Riverside county. Early last week, in CDFA/USDA: 2nd Commercial Poultry Outbreak Of Virulent Newcastle Disease In California, we learned that a second commercial operation had been affected.In rapid succession we now learn that a third commercial flock has now been affected. This from the USDA.
USDA Confirms Virulent Newcastle Disease in a Third Commercial Chicken Flock in California USDA
WASHINGTON, January 10, 2018 -- The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed virulent Newcastle disease in a third commercial poultry flock in California. The latest case is in a commercial layer flock in Riverside County. This finding is part of an outbreak in southern California that began in May 2018 in backyard exhibition birds.
Virulent Newcastle disease is not a food safety concern. 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, limit the disease’s spread in commercial poultry, and then eradicate it. Federal and State partners are conducting additional surveillance and testing in the area, and are working with nearby commercial farms to increase biosecurity to prevent additional disease spread.
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; and cleaning and disinfecting tires and equipment before moving them off the property.
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 all poultry flocks can be f
ound at www.aphis.usda.gov/animalhealth/defendtheflock.
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.
Due to the government shutdown, the USDA's Newcastle Disease Surveillance and reporting page has not been updated since December 20th, so the exact number of outbreaks to date remain unpublished.
The most recent update reads:
Virulent Newcastle Disease (vND)
Last Modified: Dec 21, 2018
Virulent Newcastle disease, formerly known as exotic 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.
Virulent Newcastle disease is not a food safety concern. 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 with mild symptoms, such as conjunctivitis. These are easily prevent with personal protective equipment.
Since May 18, USDA has confirmed 231 cases of vND in California, 104 in San Bernardino County, 87 in Riverside County, 39 in Los Angeles County and 1 in Ventura County: