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Deadly Chicken Disease Spreads to Bay Area

Deadly Chicken Disease Spreads to Bay Area

One chicken, submitted to a veterinary office in Redwood City, by a backyard bird owner that lived in Alameda County, has been confirmed positive for VND and has been euthanized. At this moment, CDFA and USDA are not aware of any other cases in Northern California, but are very actively investigating.

California State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones today modified Southern California’s quarantine area to further restrict bird movement as work continues to eradicate virulent Newcastle disease (VND).  The quarantine mandates the reporting of sick birds and prohibits poultry owners from moving birds in all of Los Angeles County, and in large areas of San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

The modified quarantine extends from the northern and southern borders of western Riverside County to the Salton Sea—including the Coachella Valley—and as far east as Yucca Valley in San Bernardino County, with a northern boundary of State Route 58 at the Kern County line. The quarantine language and a map may be found at CDFA’s VND Web site.

The quarantine requires bird owners to allow diagnostic testing, to isolate poultry from other species, to cease exhibitions, to stop the shipping and receiving of birds, and to enhance biosecurity. 

“By modifying the quarantine area in Southern California, we are building upon an ongoing effort to eradicate virulent Newcastle disease,” said Dr. Jones. “The primary way that VND spreads is by people moving sick birds. Extending the prohibition of bird movement across a larger area is the next logical step in being able to stop the spread of the virus and to eradicate the disease.” 

VND is a nearly-always fatal respiratory infection in poultry.  Birds may seem healthy but will die within days of being infected.  There is no cure.  The virus is also transmitted by people who have VND on their clothes or shoes, and by equipment or vehicles that can transport the disease from place to place. 

There are no human health concerns provided that any meat or eggs are cooked properly.  People who come in direct contact with the virus may develop conjunctivitis-like symptoms or run a mild fever.

The only way to stop the virus and eradicate the disease is to euthanize birds.  This includes all infected birds as well as birds within heavily-infected areas.

Since May 2018, staff from the California Department of Agriculture (CDFA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have been working in joint incident command to eradicate VND in Southern California.  The highly contagious virus has resulted, or will soon result, in the euthanasia of more than one million birds in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties.

Birds from four poultry industry producers in Riverside County and two poultry industry producer in San Bernardino County have also been infected with VND and all birds in those facilities have been or will be euthanized.

For more information about movement restrictions, biosecurity, and testing requirements, please call the Sick Bird Hotline (866) 922-2473 or email SFSPermits@cdfa.ca.gov

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