Department Urges Bird Owners to Help Prevent Entry Of Exotic Newcastle Disease into Georgia
Exotic Newcastle Disease (END), considered one of the most infectious disease of birds and poultry, is a foreign animal disease to the United States; however, the disease has been confirmed in four states. The disease, first confirmed in California in October 2002, also was confirmed in Nevada in January 2003, Arizona in February 2003 and Texas on April 9, 2003. The cause of infection spread is thought to be from illegal movement of birds from infected areas.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Veterinary Services has imposed federal quarantines to regulate the interstate movement of all species of birds and poultry products from affected areas and has declared an extraordinary emergency in the four affected areas. The Georgia Department of Agriculture restricts entry of birds from END quarantined areas. As of April 9, 2003, there have been approximately 16,150 premises quarantined in the four states with 3.5 million birds depopulated on over 2,500 different premises.
The Georgia Department of Agriculture, USDA APHIS VS and poultry stakeholder groups are developing a Georgia END surveillance plan, which includes enhancing (1) passive and active surveillance in commercial poultry, non-commercial poultry, wild birds and pet birds, (2) effective disease reporting, (3) diagnostic laboratory support and (4) extensive outreach and education to the diverse avian stakeholders and to veterinarians.
USDA APHIS VS personnel, including staff from Georgia, and other federal government personnel are participating in California task force activities in three-week rotating assignments. The agency is recruiting veterinarians, veterinary technicians and veterinary students to help meet the labor demands. Almost 1,500 federal, state and contracted personnel at any one time have been utilized for Task Force duties. Persons possibly interested in a temporary Task Force assignment should contact the USDA, APHIS, VS GA Area Office at (770) 922-7860.
END does not affect human health, nor does it affect poultry products or eggs for human consumption. For more information about END, log onto the USDA website http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/birdbiosecurity/end/or the California Department of Agriculture website http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/ahfss/ah/Newcastle_info.htm
Georgia bird owners are urged to abide by the END quarantines and not bring any birds or related products into Georgia from the affected areas. Bird owners who experience a large, unexpected death loss or illness among their birds, should contact their veterinarian and the Georgia Department of Agriculture so samples can be collected for diagnosis. It is advisable to follow routine biosecurity measures by restricting traffic onto premises containing birds to prevent potential spread of avian diseases.
More About END
Exotic Newcastle disease, previously known as Velogenic Viscerotropic Newcastle Disease, is so virulent that many birds die before showing any clinical signs. A death rate of 100 percent can occur in exposed flocks. An END outbreak can jeopardize a state's poultry production and limit its international trading opportunities.
END is spread when the bodily discharges of infected birds come in contact with healthy birds. Discharges, which contain high concentrations of the virus, include droppings, or secretions from the bird's nose, mouth or eyes. In close confinement, such as commercial poultry operations, the disease can spread very rapidly.
The virus also can be picked up on shoes, clothing or equipment and can be carried from an infected flock to a healthy one. For this reason producers must see that biosecurity measures are followed when visitors, work crews, service personnel, manure haulers, renderers or feed trucks come on site.
END can survive for several weeks in a warm, humid environment on birds' feathers, manure and other materials. The virus can survive indefinitely in frozen material; however, it is destroyed rapidly by dehydration and by the ultraviolet rays in sunlight.
This disease, which has an incubation period ranging from two to 15 days, affects the bird's respiratory, nervous and digestive systems.
Following are clinical signs of END:
*Respiratory: sneezing, gasping for air, nasal discharge, coughing
*Digestive: greenish, watery diarrhea
*Nervous: depression, muscular tremors, drooped wings, twisting of head and neck, circling, complete paralysis
*Partial to complete drop in egg production
*Production of thin-shelled eggs
*Swelling of the tissues around the eyes and in the neck
*Increased death loss in a flock
END also poses a threat to the caged-bird industry and poultry hobbyists. Any Georgia poultry producer, pet bird owner, or backyard poultry grower who observes any of these signs among their birds should contact their veterinarian and the Georgia Department of Agriculture's Animal Industry Division at (404) 656-3667 or toll-free at 1-800-282-5852 (ask for extension 3667).