Saturday, January 12, 2019

Virulent Newcastle Disease - What You Need To Know

Many of you might know about the southern California outbreak of Virulent New Castle Disease. As someone who was active in the avian community back during the first big outbreak in 2002-03, it was a scary time. Poultry shows were cancelled, people began strict biosecurity measures, and we all took extra precautions to keep our birds safe.

The United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service explains that "Virulent Newcastle disease is one of the most serious poultry diseases worldwide.  A death rate of almost 100 percent can occur in unvaccinated poultry flocks; Virulent Newcastle disease can infect and cause death even in vaccinated poultry.

Virulent Newcastle disease spreads when healthy birds come in direct contact with bodily fluids from sick birds. The disease affects almost all birds and poultry, even vaccinated poultry. The virus can travel on manure, egg flats, crates, other farming materials or equipment, and people who have picked up the virus on their clothing, shoes, or hands".

With this disease now back in California again, how do we keep it from spreading?

The most important step is to take biosecurity seriously and learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms of disease in your flock. According to the USDA, you should be especially alert if you flocks demonstrates any of the following:

  • 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.
 Get help right away, and contact the sick bird hotline at 1-866-922-2473. Do NOT transport your birds, and do not allow visitors into your poultry area. Quarantine your flock and take important steps to help prevent it from spreading to neighbor's flocks. UC Davis Veterinary Medicine provides some very helpful resources to poultry owners:

 While everyone works to contain this virus, follow these biosecurity steps by the USDA:

"The best way to keep your birds healthy is to practice biosecurity. Birds can become sick or die from exposure to just a few unseen bacteria, viruses or parasites. In a single day, these germs can multiply and infect every bird on your premises. So protect your birds by taking a few simple steps".

These include:
  • Restricting traffic onto and off of your property.
  • Disinfecting shoes, clothes, hands, egg trays or flats, crates, vehicles, and tires.  
  • Avoiding visits to other poultry farms or bird owners. If you do, be sure to change clothes and clean your hands and shoes before entering your own bird area.
  • Washing hands and scrubbing boots before and after entering a poultry area; and Isolating any birds returning from shows for 30 days before placing them with the rest of the flock.
When Buying Birds
"Buy from a reputable hatchery or dealer, and request certification from suppliers that the birds were legally imported or come from U.S. stock and were healthy before shipment. Also, maintain records of all sales and shipments of flocks. Keep new birds separated from your other birds for at least 30 days. Keep young and old birds and birds of different species and from different sources apart". 

The steps you take to protect your own flock, will in turn protect your neighbor's chickens. Be safe!

No comments:

Post a Comment