The California Department of Food & Agriculture's (CDFA) ongoing program to eradicate virulent Newcastle disease (VND) following detections in San Bernardino, Riverside and Los Angeles counties is a very deliberate process that requires teams of CDFA and U.S. Department of Agriculture employees to go door to door in the search for symptoms of the disease among backyard birds, according to information from CDFA's Office of Public Affairs.
So far, VND has been detected at 65 properties, but survey teams have paid visits to more than 73,000 properties, CDFA said. Quarantines are in place at 1,786 properties, and even though the disease has not been detected at commercial poultry operations, CDFA said several operations are under quarantine as a safeguard due to their proximity to infected premises.
CDFA added that outreach is a key part of the survey teams’ work. Information on prevention and the recognition of symptoms is shared at each property. This effort includes visits to farmers markets, feed stores, veterinary clinics and egg sellers, as well as ongoing communications with bird clubs and 4-H groups and weekend visits to church services in the affected areas, the agency said.
As this work continues, bird owners everywhere -- but especially in southern California -- are urged to practice strict biosecurity measures. In southern California, CDFA said these include:
1. Don’t move birds;
2. Don’t bring new birds to the property, and
3. Don’t let other people with birds come into contact with your birds.
VND mostly travels through the movement of infected poultry or on the hands and feet of people who came into contact with infected poultry or their droppings.
Bird owners urged to report sick birds to CDFA’s Sick Bird Hotline at (866) 922-2473.