The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced April 5 that it has confirmed the presence of virulent Newcastle disease (VND) in a small flock of pet chickens in Coconino County, Ariz.
Coconino County includes the Flagstaff area in northern Arizona, including Grand Canyon National Park, but APHIS did not disclose the actual location of the affected flock.
APHIS said this is the first case of VND confirmed in Arizona as part of the current outbreak.
The agency said this case is believed to be connected to the current outbreak of VND in California, as tests show the virus is almost identical to the virus causing disease in California. Since May 2018, more than 400 VND cases have been confirmed as part of this southern California outbreak, primarily in backyard exhibition birds. A single case had also been found in a backyard flock in Utah that had been relocated from Los Angeles, Cal.
VND is not a food safety concern. No human cases of Newcastle disease have ever occurred from eating poultry products. Properly cooked poultry products are safe to eat.
APHIS is working with the Arizona Department of Agriculture to respond to the finding. Federal and state partners are also conducting additional surveillance and testing in the area, the announcement said.
APHIS emphasized that it is essential that all bird owners follow good biosecurity practices to help protect their birds from infectious diseases.
In addition to practicing good biosecurity, all bird owners should report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to their veterinarian or to State veterinary officials. Additional information on biosecurity for all poultry flocks can be found at www.aphis.usda.gov/animalhealth/defendtheflock.