If you have not yet heard, Southern California is facing a terrible Virulent Newcastle Disease (VND) outbreak. Commonly called Newcastle Disease, it is wreaking havoc on commercial and backyard poultry producers. Here is what you need to know:
Although the disease has not made it to the central coast, it is very easily spread. The CDFA is doing a great job of staying on top of this and keeping it contained, but you can also help make sure it is eradicated.
The most important thing to do is not visit or buy poultry in the affected area!!!! Although the chickens may not look sick they can be carriers and the disease will spread quickly through your flock. If you do come into contact with birds in Southern California, make sure to wash everything thoroughly. Hands, clothes, shoes, even your car tires can carry the disease to other places. VND very rarely is contracted by humans as well in the form of conjunctivitis (pink eye), so be careful!If you have visitors from that area who have chickens at home, do not let them around your birds.
Signs and Symptoms to look for:
Neurological issues: Head tilting or waving, cannot walk properly, unable to get up
Respiratory issues: gurgling and labored breathing
These are the 2 most common and early symptoms of the disease. Neurological issues are the first to appear and are the most unique to this disease. Chickens can get sick from other things and have similar issues, so please do not panic unless you notice the neurological signs. Egg bound chickens can have similar issues, but will not have the head waving symptoms. If you are very worried one of your chickens is infected separate it from the flock as soon as possible and call the CDFA for advice.
The good news is that the CDFA is really trying to get this erradicated before it spreads, the bad news is that if it spreads it can wipe out your entire flock. There is not a vaccine or a cure for VND yet, so please be vigilant and careful!
If you would like more information on VND and where it has spread, click this link: https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/ahfss/Animal_Health/newcastle_disease_info.html
As always, if you would like more information or have more questions about this, feel free to ask us!