Photo: Yalonda M. James, The Chronicle
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One case of a nearly always fatal poultry disease was reported in Northern California, following a widespread quarantine of domesticated birds in Southern California.
The virus, called virulent Newcastle disease, is untreatable and spreads quickly among various poultry species, including — but not limited to — chickens, turkeys, pheasants, ducks, geese and pigeons. The only way to stop the spread of VND is to quarantine domesticated birds and euthanize infected ones.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture first reported an outbreak of VND in Southern California in late February, when the infection was discovered in birds from four poultry industry producers in Riverside County and two in San Bernardino County. All of the birds have been or will be euthanized, CDFA said.
On March 15, a resident of Alameda County submitted a chicken infected with VND to a veterinary office in Redwood City. Veterinarians euthanized the animal. There have been no other reported cases in Northern California, but CDFA is investigating and issued a warning and protocol recommendations last week.
The Southern California quarantine mandates the reporting of sick birds and prohibits poultry owners from moving birds in Los Angeles County, and parts of San Bernardino and Riverside counties. Some Northern California entities are taking matters into their own hands, like the Lindsay Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital in Walnut Creek.
The hospital said in a Monday statement it would no longer accept injured or baby wild turkeys “to protect its animal ambassadors — as well as those receiving care in the hospital.” The organization advises anyone who finds an injured turkey to call their county animal services department.
“We are taking the threat very seriously here at Lindsay,” said Aireo Shipman, Lindsay’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Manager. “Our priority must be to protect our animal ambassadors who call Lindsay home, as well as the injured birds that need our care.”
VND is a respiratory infection, most commonly associated with chickens, that some have called the “poultry Grim Reaper.” Once infected, birds may seem healthy but die within a matter of days. There is no cure.
The virus may be transmitted by people who have VND on their clothes and by equipment that has come into contact with affected animals, CDFA said. People who come into direct contact with the virus may develop symptoms mimicking conjunctivitis or mild fevers, though there are no human health concerns as long as any meat or eggs consumed is cooked properly.
The last major VND outbreak in the United States occurred between 2002 and 2003, when close to 4 million birds were euthanized on 2,500 properties, the SB Sun reported.
More than one million birds in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Riverside counties have been euthanized because of the highly contagious virus.
For more information about movement restrictions, biosecurity and testing requirements, concerned parties should call the Sick Bird Hotline (866) 922-2473 or email SFSPermits@cdfa.ca.gov.
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This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/poultry-virulent-newcastle-disease-quarantine-bird-13715501.php.