Los Angeles, California - 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.
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.
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). Additional information on VND and biosecurity for backyard flocks can be found at https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/ahfss/Animal_Health/Newcastle_Disease_Info.html.
Virulent Newcastle disease, formerly known as exotic Newcastle disease, is a highly contagious and deadly virus in birds; the virus is found in respiratory discharges and feces. Clinical signs in birds include sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge, green watery diarrhea, depression, paralysis, decreased egg production, swelling around eyes and neck, and sudden death.