Mike Stepien, 301-851-4107
The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is announcing that effective today, we are transitioning our virulent Newcastle disease (vND) efforts in southern California from a response focus to implementing a prevention plan aimed at keeping vND from recurring in the region. Even with extensive testing taking place, APHIS has not confirmed any new vND cases since February 1, 2020. As a result, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is removing its vND quarantine.
“APHIS and CDFA employees have worked tirelessly over the past two years toward this goal,” said Dr. Burke Healey, USDA Chief Veterinarian. “While this is a big accomplishment, we need to continue the work to educate bird owners and arm them with the knowledge and tools to prevent this from happening again.”
To guard against the risk of future outbreaks, the prevention plan led by the California Avian Health Education Network (CAHEN) will focus on disease monitoring and continual support for biosecurity training. We know that biosecurity practices work – they were essential in minimizing vND spread to commercial farms in the area and we’ve used them successfully in other poultry disease outbreaks. But these practices must be followed by anyone who owns or handles poultry. Southern California’s many backyard and commercial poultry owners alike must remain vigilant in protecting the health of their birds by ensuring biosecurity protocols are being followed every day, every time. Education, training and outreach will ensure backyard bird owners and both feed and pet stores have the information they need to keep birds healthy.
All backyard poultry owners and commercial operations also need to routinely check birds for signs of illness, and report sick birds through CAHEN at 866-922-2473. This will allow animal health officials to investigate and quickly respond if needed. APHIS will continue to provide educational materials and staffing support to CAHEN and CDFA.