Virulent Newcastle Disease and Wild Birds: Info for Southern California Bird Owners

We have received numerous inquiries regarding the stubborn outbreak of vND (Virulent Newcastle Disease) and concerns about wild birds visiting properties where poultry birds are kept. Many have voiced concerns regarding pigeons, and Eurasian collared doves (both non-native species) that are wild, but are a pest species that often visit areas to roost, forage, or nest. The concern voiced is that these wild birds may transmit vND to backyard flocks. Also of concern are flocks of pigeons or doves kept as pets that are allowed to leave their roosts daily.

UPDATED CDFA STATEMENT: INFORMATION REGARDING WILD BIRDS FOR POULTRY KEEPERS

We contacted the California State Veterinarian, and asked for advice on how to best educate the public regarding this concern.

Here is what you need to know:

  • Yes, vND can be carried by, and spread by ANY “wild” bird, including pigeons and Eurasian collared doves, as well as waterfowl (ducks and geese.) They are what are referred to as a “reservoir species.” It can also be spread by pigeons or doves that have a “home” roost, but are allowed to leave at-will. These birds often visit numerous locations daily in search of food, water, roosting and nesting sites. Knowing where they have been, or what they may have been exposed to when visiting numerous properties daily is simply not possible.
  • Pigeons, Eurasian collared doves, and all wild birds tend to have stronger immune systems than domestically kept birds. The risk that they can be carriers of vND before becoming ill does exist. There is little information on this subject.

There is NO EFFECTIVE VACCINE FOR THIS STRAIN of vND. Vaccination is useless.

The greatest risks to backyard poultry and pet birds are: moving birds, transmitting vND on clothing, hands, equipment, vehicle tires, and shoes, as well as entering any property where vND may exist. Allowing anyone who has been in an area with poultry to enter your property without following ALL recommended biosecurity procedures is risky. Your flocks should be closed, with no exceptions, and sick birds should be reported to the Sick Bird Hotline immediately. Testing is free of charge.

  • While there is a risk of transmission to backyard flocks, as well as pet birds (parrots, etc) from wild birds, the risk is less than risks listed above, but stating that transmission is NOT possible is inaccurate.

The best advice we can give to you is this:

If you are very concerned about the possibility of your birds becoming exposed to vND due to issues with pigeons or Eurasian doves visiting your property daily, then yes, we do provide services to eliminate them, and we are well trained in proper bio-hazard procedures.

If you see anyone moving birds, aviaries, or eggs in, within, or into our quarantine areas, please make a report to the Sick Bird Hotline immediately! Together, we can help eradicate this strain of vND from our community. This is not only a “backyard” flock issue, but an emergency that threatens the multi-billion dollar poultry industry in our state.

Note: vND has now been confirmed in the San Francisco Bay Area of Northern California (Redwood City) for the first time, as well as in Alameda County.

Useful Links:

Sick Bird Hotline (available in English and Spanish) 866-922-2473

vND Quarantine Area Map (this information may change, check regularly!)

Bio-security Guidelines for Poultry Owners to Prevent Virulent Newcastle Disease

CA Dept of Food and Agriculture: Virulent Newcastle Disease

Virulent Newcastle Disease Update: Quarantine Boundaries Modified in Southern California

Deadly chicken disease spreads to Bay Area, flocks at risk: First-ever case of Virulent Newcastle Disease in Northern California leads to cancellation of events

A review of virulent Newcastle disease viruses in the United States and the role of wild birds in viral persistence and spread