December 2018 California Newcastle Disease Update

12-2018 California Newcastle Disease update:

Since May 2018, USDA has confirmed 380 cases of virulent Newcastle Disease (vND) in backyard birds in southern California.  Almost all are in small flock (“backyard”) show chickens, but a few are in small flocks of turkeys, and “mixed bird” flocks.  To keep this disease from spreading, and to keep it out of the commercial poultry industry, the USDA implements quarantine and eradication of infected flocks.  Obviously, this is very traumatic for bird owners, so it is in everyone’s best interest to keep this (and other) disease out of our area by following best practices.  According to the USDA, these include:

  • Washing hands and scrubbing boots before and after entering an area with birds;
  • 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.

This week, a pullet facility (a commercial poultry farm) in the same region of southern California was discovered to be positive for vND.  The USDA APHIS immediately implemented eradication/quarantine procedures, and is actively working to understand the source, and using established steps to prevent further spread.  Wild birds/rodents in the area are being tested for vND, but not extensively.

It is difficult to find the exact source of this strain of vND, but given the many cases of backyard exhibition birds with vND in the general area, it is reasonable to think that using excellent biosecurity methods will be helpful to avoid spread among commercial farms.  This disease, like avian influenza, can be swiftly fatal to affected flocks, and is hard to eradicate from the premises.

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.  For more info on biosecurity, please see: