The USA Poultry & Egg Council (USAPEEC),http://www.usapeec.org at its 2020 Annual Meeting, recognized the efforts of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) in eradicating virulent Newcastle disease (VND) in California.

Dr. John Clifford, USAPEEC veterinary trade policy advisor, presented the honors to Dr. Adis Dijab, APHIS Veterinary Services field operations executive director, and Dr. Annette Jones, California state veterinarian. Plaques recognizing the contributions of APHIS and CDFA will be presented in person to Dijab and Jones in the near future by Bill Mattos, president of the California Poultry Federation, who participated in the ceremony, as this year’s annual meeting was conducted virtually.

“We want to thank USDA, APHIS and the CDFA for their work in the eradication of virulent Newcastle disease,” Clifford said. “This has been a long difficult task eradicating this disease in exhibition birds in California. It has been accomplished thanks to the dedication and hard work of the employees of both government agencies. We are truly grateful for their efforts.”

On June 1, the CDFA and USDA announced an end to the VND quarantine in southern California, allowing poultry to again move freely within the state. VND was first detected in May 2018 in Los Angeles County. By December 2018, the virus had spread extensively in backyard poultry in the Los Angeles basin and had also infected commercial flocks.  After prolonged disease control efforts, the last confirmed positive case was detected in February of 2020. Testing has continued throughout the area since that time to gain assurance that the disease was eradicated.

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“USAPEEC wanted to recognize the fact that this is a major accomplishment that can greatly impact trade,” said USAPEEC President Jim Sumner. “It is important to rid our country of this disease.”

VND is a virus that affects birds with particularly lethal effects on poultry, affecting the digestive system, nervous system and respiratory system.  It is not normally found in the U.S.  It spreads quickly between birds but is not considered a human health threat.  Its presence can be so detrimental to poultry health and the food supply that it triggers state, federal and international regulatory response. While the virus has been introduced and eradicated from more than 15 U.S. states since 1950, the largest outbreaks occurred in California in 1971-1974 and 2002-2003 following a similar pattern but with wider spread than the recent 2018-2020 outbreak.