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Newcastle Disease Updates

Here are the latest updates on the Newcastle Disease outbreak in California. Some new cases reported recently, but things still trending in a positive direction. As always, we will continue to monitor the situation as AgFest 2020 approaches and follow the mandates/recommendations of the CDFA as they relate to our poultry shows in 2020.

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January 29, 2020

Virulent Newcastle Disease Update from State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones

Many southern California residents may be wondering why their local feed and pet stores do not have chicks for sale this spring.  While virus levels in the region are greatly reduced, VND continues to impact backyard flocks inside the regional quarantine area, as evidenced by the detection of more than 20 new cases this winter. DNA from these recent cases suggests they are all related, most likely from a single source with further spread due to bird movement, lax biosecurity, and commingling at feed and pet stores.  

Feed and pet stores provide a critical infrastructure for bird owners. Not only are they a source of feed, equipment and birds, they are also a gathering place for like-minded people where information and experiences can be shared. Unfortunately, this foot traffic also means that some customers may be carrying the virus on their shoes or clothing. When a store with this type of foot traffic also houses poultry, it gives the virus a chance to find a new host and become even more infectious.  Keeping poultry, including baby chicks, out of these important community businesses will help the region become VND free.

The best defense against the virus is to continue practicing good biosecurity.

  • DO NOT MOVE YOUR BIRDS
  • Disinfect and change shoes and clothes before and after handling your birds
  • Do not wear clothes and shoes used with your flock to places with poultry or other bird owners
  • Wash hands thoroughly
  • Do not handle birds while at feed or pet stores
  • Disinfect anything purchased at the store before introducing it to your flock (feeders, waters, etc.) 

Be aware of the signs of VND in your flock and report any sick birds to the CDFA Sick Bird Hotline (1-866-922-2473) right away.

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December 23, 2019

Virulent Newcastle Disease Update from State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones

Over the past month, Virulent Newcastle disease cases have increased because people have violated the CDFA VND Regional Quarantine by moving infected birds or contaminated equipment and secondary spread to neighboring flocks.  We now have 20 new cases under investigation, all linked to the recent Bloomington area outbreak.  Most of the cases are in San Bernardino County, with two in Riverside County and one in Los Angeles County.   Backyard flocks as well as retail pet/feed stores are involved. 

Based on phylogenetic analysis and epidemiologic studies, we understand how the disease spreads in Southern California.  This highly contagious virus has been spread when people move exposed birds or equipment, or when people carry the virus to their own unfortunate flock on their hands and feet.   It moves long distances as people illegally move birds or equipment. When introduced to a new area, it is amplified as the previously uninfected poultry succumb until the environmental virus load is so great, the outbreak spreads from yard to yard.  Exposed poultry around a newly infected flock are the “virus amplifiers,” particularly just before they show signs of disease.

Put simply, your birds can spread the disease before they show symptoms, so the only way to stop it is to not move birds – period – if you are in the CDFA Regional Quarantine Area.

As a reminder, last year the disease was spread from San Bernardino to LA and Riverside counties and beyond, leading to widespread highly infected areas, infected poultry farms, the death of over 1.2 million birds, and significant financial and emotional strain on poultry owners and disease control agencies. 

We need your help to stop the spread of this virus and end this outbreak.  Specific actions you can take to protect the poultry in your community are on the CDFA VND website in our biosecurity videos, guidance documents and links, but general keys to success include:

  • DO NOT move poultry or poultry equipment within the VND Regional Quarantine without a CDFA permit.
  • DO NOT let anyone with birds near your poultry.
  • DO NOT accidentally bring this virus home to your flock on your clothes, hands, feet or equipment.

Please work together to ensure we do not see this outbreak grow as it did in 2018.  Stopping the spread will take the combined effort of all bird owners.  Talk to your neighbors and friends.  Keep Southern California safe for poultry!

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December 9, 2019

Virulent Newcastle Disease Update from State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones

In November and December of 2019, CDFA and USDA have detected a total of 6 new confirmed cases of virulent Newcastle disease in backyard poultry and at a retail feed store in western San Bernardino County. Information gathered so far indicates that these cases are linked, but we are still working to find additional connections and potentially more cases.

As a result of these findings, we have euthanized poultry on confirmed infected and exposed properties in the Bloomington-area and have intensified testing in the neighborhoods surrounding the infected flocks.    

In an effort to minimize the impact of this new pocket of disease on the entire area, our epidemiologists continue to explore multiple disease response strategies with an eye towards preventing a major outbreak from reoccurring.  

All strategies currently under consideration will involve more testing in areas we have already tested at least once, including in Los Angeles and Riverside counties. While these recent cases are in San Bernardino County and our last positive cases in Los Angeles and Riverside counties were in May 2019 and September 2019, significant historical evidence shows that infected birds are moved frequently between these counties, so as long as we have remaining pockets of disease, a substantial risk of spread exists.

We are hoping that we can keep moving toward eradication and freedom from disease. Success depends on community efforts. Stay vigilant, report sick birds, and take actions to protect your birds and your community’s birds from disease.  Do not move birds and do not allow new poultry on your property.

While the vast majority of people in affected communities have made the commitment and sacrifice needed to stop this outbreak, some have ignored our quarantine and even encouraged others to ignore the quarantine. We all need to work together so we can eliminate this virus entirely from California and return to an environment that supports healthy backyard birds and poultry farms.

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The regional quarantine is still in effect (see map here). For a list of virulent Newcastle disease cases since the outbreak began in May 2018, visit the USDA VND website.

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Attention: The United States Postal Service (USPS) is not allowing shipments of live birds (all) or hatching/embryonated eggs into or out of zip codes 90000-93599 in California. For more information: https://postalpro.usps.com/node/6643