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California state vet calls for cancellation of poultry exhibitions

Move would support virulent Newcastle disease containment and eradication efforts.

California state veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones has sent a letter to poultry exhibitors in California recommending that all poultry exhibitions be cancelled if they include birds from counties that are at high risk for virulent Newcastle disease (VND): Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura, Cal.

According to the letter distributed by the California Department of Food & Agriculture, Jones said the effort would "support our disease containment and eradication efforts" of the disease outbreak that began in May 2018.

The letter defined an exhibition as "an assembly of birds (including, but not limited to, poultry) brought to the assembly location for purposes that include public display for any duration. For example, exhibitions include, but are not limited to: auctions, shows, swap meets, pet marts, fair exhibits, pigeon races, cock fights, pet stores and petting zoos. Public zoos are not included in this definition."

The VND outbreak has had a devastating impact on backyard bird populations in southern California and has also been found in three commercial facilities in Riverside County. As a result, nearly 500,000 backyard and commercial birds have been euthanized, Jones said.

VND is a highly contagious respiratory virus in poultry that is nearly always fatal. The only way to stop the spread of the virus and eradicate the disease is to euthanize infected birds and all birds within highly infected areas, according to Jones.

More information on VND is available at https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/ahfss/Animal_Health/newcastle_disease_info.html.

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