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Newcastle disease kills chickens in San Diego County sparking concern

Chicken Disease Quarantine.png
Posted at 7:31 PM, Sep 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-02 01:15:59-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Virulent Newcastle disease was detected this weekend at a property in central San Diego County, a state veterinarian said Sunday.

Friday's detection was identified when a private veterinarian submitted dead birds to the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System, according to state veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones.

Response team members from the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are working through the Labor Day weekend on control measures, including restriction of bird movement, mandatory euthanasia of infected and exposed birds, and surveillance testing near the property where infection was detected.

"We are moving quickly to investigate the origin of disease as well as any movement of birds or equipment that could carry infection," Jones said in a statement.

Detections of virulent Newcastle disease have decreased greatly over the last few months, she said.

"Our priority remains to stop the spread of the virus and eradicate the disease," Jones said.

"We have made significant progress toward this goal by identifying and clearing remaining pockets of disease, but this case reminds all bird owners in Southern California to remain aware of VND signs, practice good biosecurity, stop illegal movement of birds from property to property, and report any sick birds immediately to the Sick Bird Hotline, 866-922-2473."

Members of the 'home flock' community encourage keeping your birds where they are, wash your hands, change your clothes and shoes after contact with the birds to prevent the spread of the disease.

The disease put California on a quarantine, keeping businesses from buying new chickens, leaving cages empty. The incident, according to CDFA, started May of 2018.

Chickens and chicks were not at the San Diego County fair this year, according to Heather Thelen, Owner of Hawthorne Country Store, due to the outbreak.

Symptoms owners should look out for:

  • Sudden death and increased death loss in flock;
  • Sneezing, gasping for air, nasal discharge, coughing;
  • Greenish, watery diarrhea;
  • Decreased activity, tremors, drooping wings, twisting of head and neck, circling, complete stiffness; and
  • Swelling around the eyes and neck.

The disease does not affect meat humans consume. People can catch the disease through touching a chicken's bodily fluids, and a person could come down with mild flu symptoms.