A highly contagious and deadly bird virus was detected at a veterinary clinic in the Bay Area city of Redwood City last month, which has alarmed the Bay Area’s poultry community. The deadly bird disease is called Virulent Newcastle Disease and it has unfortunately spread north from Southern California. The disease was first reported on May in Los Angeles County and since then it has led to the euthanasia of over 1 million backyard and commercial birds in Southern California. Richard Blatchford, a poultry specialist at UC Davis Department of Animal Science, stated the following regarding the disease,
The really big concern is the spread into commercial flocks. It can wipe out an entire farm very quickly.
According to the Mercury News, the disease can kill chickens, cockatiels, cockatoos, turkeys and it can occasionally kill wild birds such as cormorants, gulls, and pelicans. The disease causes only mild symptoms in humans who have very close contact with infected birds such as mild flu-like symptoms, laryngitis or conjunctivitis, and pink eye. The last time that Southern California had an outbreak was in 2003, but this is the first ever reported case of the disease in Northern California. Most infections have usually occurred among chickens raised at homes on the outskirts of urban areas. According to infectious disease experts, owners of backyard chickens should at least follow these three basic steps: 1) Wash your hands and scrub your boots before and after entering an area with birds, 2) Clean and disinfect equipment before moving them off a property, and 3) Isolate any birds returning from bird shows for 30 days before placing them with the rest of the flock. Hopefully the disease does not continue to spread throughout California.