Poultry show cancellations continue to be announced in response to the outbreak of virulent Newcastle disease (VND). Since May 2018, a VND outbreak has had a devastating impact on poultry populations in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties. A recent case of VND was also discovered in Redwood City in Alameda County. Officials from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) have been working with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to continue to investigate the area, however, no other cases have been reported so far in Northern California.
Dozens of poultry shows and exhibitions have already been canceled after being advised by California State Veterinarian Dr. Annette Jones that VND poses a serious threat to the industry. Some of the most recent poultry show cancellations come from the Stanislaus County Fair, the Big Fresno Fair, the Salinas Valley Fair, the Nevada County Fair, and the San Mateo County State Fair. Some fair organizers are still weighing their options, with managers of both the Santa Cruz County Fair and the San Benito County Fair indicating they will hold off on making any decisions for a few more months.
More than one million birds in commercial operations and backyards have been euthanized in relation to the outbreak. All of Los Angeles County and large areas of San Bernardino and Riverside counties remain under a poultry quarantine. The highly contagious respiratory virus is nearly always fatal as there is currently no known cure. VND has also shown up in Utah as a result of birds being moved and contaminating others, as birds can appear to be healthy even when infected. The virus does not pose any risk to humans, however, it can be transmitted by individuals who have VND on their clothes or shoes.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue recently announced that an additional $45 million will be made available to APHIS to help address VND. The funding will allow APHIS and CDFA to strengthen efforts to prevent further spread of the disease and hopefully protect other flocks from being exposed.