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San Diego Zoo taking precautions after Virulent Newcastle Disease detected in San Diego County

Chicken Disease Quarantine.png
Posted at 2:27 PM, Sep 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-04 17:27:35-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV and CNS) -- The San Diego Zoo and Safari Park are taking extra precautions after Virulent Newcastle Disease was found in San Diego County over the weekend.

According to a statement released by the zoo, “heightened biosecurity measures are being instituted at both the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.”

The zoo says it’s closed walkthrough aviaries at both parks and removed guest access in an “excess of caution.”

Read the full statement below:

Working with local health officials, San Diego Zoo Global veterinarians and animal care staff have been monitoring the progress of Virulent Newcastle Disease (vND) in Southern California. The current vND outbreak began in May, 2018. This highly contagious viral infection of poultry and other avian species continues to spread in unpredictable ways due to individuals moving birds outside of the CDFA/USDA quarantine zone. This puts our susceptible bird species at risk.

Due to a recently diagnosed case of this disease in San Diego County, heightened biosecurity measures are being instituted at both the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. These measures, which are being taken in an excess of caution; include the closure of walkthrough aviaries at both parks, removing birds from guest access, halting free flight bird programs and restrictions on guest access to behind-the-scenes bird areas.

The disease was detected over the weekend at a property in central San Diego County, according to a state veterinarian.

The case was identified when a private veterinarian submitted dead birds to the Calfiornia Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System.
"We are moving quickly to investigate the origin of disease as well as any movement of birds or equipment that could carry infection," state veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones said.

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.

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

To report any sick birds, San Diegans are asked to immediately call the Sick Bird Hotline, 866-922-2473."