Additional cases of Virulent Newcastle Disease (vND) in backyard birds in San Bernardino County have been confirmed. Bird owners in Southern California are responding to outreach provided over the past several days related to the disease, and have reported sick birds.

San Bernardino County image via David Benbennick
San Bernardino County image via David Benbennick

This make 17 confirmed cases in San Bernadino County and one in LA County since mid-May 2018.

Virulent Newcastle disease (VND), formerly known as Exotic Newcastle Disease, is a serious, highly contagious viral disease that can affect poultry and other birds. In rare cases, humans that have exposure to infected birds may get eye inflammation or mild fever-like symptoms. These signs generally resolve without treatment, however, medical care should be sought if symptoms persist. Infection is easily prevented by using standard personal protective equipment. Virulent Newcastle disease is not a food safety concern. No human cases of Newcastle disease have ever occurred from eating poultry products. Properly cooked poultry products are safe to eat.

The virus is found in respiratory discharges and feces and may cause high rates of sickness and death in susceptible birds. For poultry, chickens are most susceptible and ducks and geese are the least susceptible. Mortality rates for Psittacine birds (parrots) can range from zero up to 75%. Certain parrots, especially Amazon parrots, can shed VND virus intermittently in excess of one year. Other birds may be infected, but may not show any symptoms and may still be able to spread the disease. Once VND is introduced into domestic avian populations, subsequent spread is normally caused by domestic bird-to-bird contact or through contact with contaminated people, feed or equipment. Other types of Newcastle disease known as lentogenic and mesogenic are less virulent and may cause mild symptoms or none at all.

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There is no effective cure for virulent Newcastle Disease.