SAN BERNARDINO – An extremely contagious poultry disease has been found to infect backyard chickens in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties.
There is no cure for poultry infected by Virulent Newcastle disease (VND), formerly known as Exotic Newcastle Disease and it can be spread by bird-to-bird contact, through contact with contaminated people, feed or equipment. Exposed humans may get eye inflammation or mild fever-like symptoms. Human cases usually resolve without treatment but medical care should be sought if symptoms persist. VND is not a food safety concern and properly cooked poultry products remain safe to eat.
Although most cases have been confirmed in San Bernardino County, some have been reported in Riverside and Los Angeles Counties. The disease leads to respiratory, nervous, and digestive systems of the affected birds and poultry leading to their death. To prevent the spread of VND bird owners should follow good biosecurity practices including washing hands, and scrubbing boots before and after entering the areas containing birds, cleaning and disinfecting tires and equipment before moving them off of the property, and isolating any birds returning home from shows for 30 days before placing them with the remainder of the flock.
Some birds die without showing any signs of the disease but others have a lack of energy and appetite, decreased egg production, soft-shelled or misshapen eggs, swelling of the head, eyelids, comb, wattles, hocks, purple discoloration to wattles, combs, and legs, nasal discharge, coughing, sneezing, lack of coordination, and diarrhea.
All bird owners should report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to State/Federal officials, either through their state veterinarian or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.
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