Virulent Newcastle Disease Found in Chickens in California


Cases of Virulent Newcastle disease (vND) in chickens have been reported in the Western US. This highly contagious virus can cause disease and death in various kinds of poultry, as well as in parrots. Nearly 100 percent of unvaccinated birds may die. Even flocks vaccinated for vND are not completely safe.

There have been 422 cases of vND in California, including 132 in San Bernardino County, 246 in Riverside County, 42 in Los Angeles County, 1 in Ventura County, and 1 in Alameda County; 1 case in Utah County, Utah; 1 case in Coconino County, Arizona.

Symptoms are varied but may include lethargy; lack of appetite; respiratory issues (sneezing, gasping, coughing); fluids coming from nose and mouth; greenish, watery diarrhea; swelling of eyes and neck; and sudden death. It may also cause paralysis. Note that

The virus often originates in illegally imported exotics that have not undergone USDA quarantine.  It can be transmitted by contact with infected birds; by feed, water, air, manure; on hands, clothes, shoes, and equipment; by animal feet; and in incubators contaminated by eggs from infected hens.

FAQs for Chicago Chicken Owners

Do I need to be worried? Probably not, unless you’ve traveled to the areas affected and interacted with poultry or poultry owners.

What is the risk to humans? There are no reported cases of people getting sick from eating infected poultry that is properly cooked. In humans, the virus that causes vND can cause conjunctivitis (pink eye).

How can I keep my chickens safe? Practice good biosecurity, using the following tips:

  • Quarantine any new birds for 30 days.
  • Know your flock’s history. Do not take in birds whose origins and bill of health are not known.
  • Wash hands and clean shoes thoroughly when entering or leaving a place with poultry.
  • Disinfect equipment (e.g., such as coops, incubators, feeders) before it comes on to or leaves your property.
  • For more info on biosecurity, see the USDA’s tips at the Defend the Flock website.

What do I do if I think my bird has vND? Ask an avian vet to run a pathology report. This disease should be reported to state and federal officials. Call the USDA at 1-866-536-7593 and the Illinois Bureau of Animal Health and Welfare at 217-782-4944

Where do I find more information on vND?

USDA Animal and Plant Health and Inspection Service’s vND page

Photos of poultry infected with vND

Illinois Department of Agriculture’s Animals pages

 

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