Newcastle disease confirmed in second commercial California flock

A second commercial poultry flock in southern California has a confirmed case of virulent Newcastle disease, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed the case in Riverside County.

The case is part of an outbreak that has been going on in southern California since May of last year. However, this case differs from most others so far in that it’s only the second commercial flock involved — the rest have all been backyard birds. Over 230 backyard cases have been reported since the outbreak began.

APHIS and Californian authorities are increasing surveillance and testing for Newcastle disease in southern California. They’re also helping producers of commercial and backyard flocks increase biosecurity measures.

APHIS notes a few areas where producers can limit the spread of disease:

  • Avoid rolling egg carts from the truck to the barn across outdoor concrete pads.
  • Avoid using workroom doors that have been held open for cooling as alternative entrances. Always use the formal entrance with a foot bath.
  • Clean and maintain foot baths. Keep organic material away from them.
  • Instruct workers thoroughly in biosecurity protocols.

About the disease

Newcastle disease is a contagious viral disease that can spread quickly. It’s most commonly thought of as a respiratory disease, but it can also harm the digestive and nervous systems. The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) notes that depressive or nervous behavior can occur. Symptoms differ depending on the strain involved, but they can include wheezing, wry neck, swelling around the eyes and neck, coughing, sneezing, tremors, paralysis, circling, spasms, diarrhea and a drop in egg production.

Transmission occurs most often through direct contact with infected birds (wild or domestic) or their feces. The virus can also be spread if it gets into feed, water, poultry equipment or the clothing of people caring for birds. It can survive for a few weeks in the environment.

According to the OIE: “The disease is very contagious. When the virus is introduced into a susceptible flock, virtually all of the birds will be infected within two to six days.”

Newcastle disease is not a huge threat to humans, and according to APHIS, no recorded cases have come from eating poultry products. The virus is sometimes transmitted to people who work with infected birds, which can lead to mild flu-like symptoms, pink eye and/or laryngitis.

Neogen offers products that can play an essential role in any biosecurity program to keep animals and people safe, including disinfectants, cleaners, personal protective equipment and more.

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