USDA confirms Newcastle disease in California commercial chicken flock |

USDA confirms Newcastle disease in California commercial chicken flock

The Agriculture Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service confirmed the presence of virulent Newcastle disease in a commercial chicken flock in Riverside County, Calif., on Saturday.

This finding is part of an outbreak in southern California that began in May 2018 in backyard birds and is the first case in commercial poultry since 2003, APHIS said.

Virulent Newcastle disease is not a food safety concern, the agency noted. No human cases of Newcastle disease have ever occurred from eating poultry products. Properly cooked poultry products are safe to eat. In very rare instances, people working directly with sick birds can become infected. Symptoms are usually very mild, and limited to conjunctivitis and/or influenza-like symptoms. Infection is easily prevented by using standard personal protective equipment.

But virulent Newcastle disease is a contagious and fatal viral disease affecting the respiratory, nervous and digestive systems of birds and poultry, APHIS added. The disease is so virulent that many birds and poultry die without showing any clinical signs. A death rate of almost 100 percent can occur in unvaccinated poultry flocks. Virulent Newcastle disease can infect and cause death even in vaccinated poultry.

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