The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced March 22 that Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is making available an additional $45 million to the Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and its partners to address the ongoing virulent Newcastle disease (vND) outbreak in southern California.
USDA said this funding will allow APHIS and the California Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA) to strengthen their joint efforts to stop the spread of this disease and prevent it from affecting additional commercial flocks.
VND has been confirmed in more than 435 backyard flocks since May 2018 and was also confirmed in four commercial flocks in December 2018 and January 2019. Most recently, a single backyard chicken in Redwood City, Cal., in the San Francisco Bay area was found with vND, which marks the farthest north the virus has traveled, according to CDFA.
“Virulent Newcastle disease is a serious concern for our nation’s poultry industry, and we need to step up our response in order to keep this disease out of additional commercial flocks,” said Greg Ibach, USDA undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs. “At this point, the trade impacts of this outbreak are minimal because APHIS has negotiated agreements with many countries to promote the principle of regionalization or limiting trade restrictions to areas affected by outbreaks rather than entire states or the entire country. However, if vND were to spread into additional commercial flocks — in California or other states — the impacts could increase substantially.”
“I want to thank Secretary Perdue and USDA for making additional resources available to fight this highly contagious poultry disease,” CDFA secretary Karen Ross said. “The strong partnership between USDA and CDFA, local government, industry and homeowners is the united stand we need. With everyone’s full effort, we can eradicate this disease, just like we did in 2003.”
USDA said it is vital that APHIS and CDFA put more responders on the ground to increase surveillance and detection in backyard flocks; ensure rapid depopulation of infected flocks; implement wider mandatory surveillance on commercial farms and help ensure that they are enhancing biosecurity in light of the increased threat, and increase outreach to backyard flock owners.
USDA will also work with CDFA on several steps to strengthen the response and prevent additional disease spread. These include:
* Ensuring that any poultry, poultry products and poultry materials that move out of affected areas will be done with a permit;
* Enforcing the quarantines and mandatory fallow periods for backyard locations to ensure that the disease is eliminated before new birds are allowed on site, and
* Conducting rapid euthanasia of likely exposed birds.
The $45 million USDA will use for these efforts is being reallocated from emergency funds transferred to USDA but not used during the highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak response in 2014-15. USDA said it will routinely reassess this plan and readjust tactics as needed. The goal remains to rid southern California of vND while protecting the rest of the country’s poultry from the disease, USDA emphasized.