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Winged Wisdom Pet Bird Magazine, Pet Bird Ezine
Pet Bird
Magazine, Ezine

January/February 2003 Magazine

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Exotic Newcastle Disease (END) was diagnosed in poultry in Southern California on October 1, 2002. This is a very serious, contagious and often fatal viral disease that affects most species of birds. Many birds die without showing any signs of the disease, but some bird species can be infected without any signs and spread the disease to other birds with fatal consequences. END can only be eradicated by rapidly identifying and humanely destroying all infected and exposed birds. Affected facilities require extensive cleaning and disinfection to get rid of the disease and prevent reinfection.

Exotic Newcastle is also a threat to caged birds. Cockatiels, budgies, amazons, and cockatoos are highly susceptible to END. Other species such as Lorys, macaws, canaries, finches, Mynahs, and African greys may not show signs but may act as carriers. Birds illegally smuggled into the United States are not quarantined and tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and therefore may carry the exotic Newcastle virus.

The disease does not pose a risk to human health. Poultry and egg products are safe to consume. In rare cases, END has caused conjunctivitis (pink eye) in people, such as laboratory workers, exposed to high levels of the virus.

Exotic Newcastle Disease is a federal reportable disease. Any person who suspects this disease exists should immediately report the disease to the State Veterinarian or Department of Agriculture.

Part I - END General Information  
Transmission & Prevention
END Information Links
END Contacts

Part II - Current Outbreak as of 02/14/03
Current Outbreak
Quarantine Announcements/Areas
USDA Quarantine Information
California Quarantine Information
California Caged Birds Policy
Nevada Quarantine Information
Arizona Quarantine Information

In addition, the BirdsnWays Exotic Newcastle Disease Information Page contains more detailed and additional information and links. It will be updated periodically.


END was first diagnosed in the United States in California in 1950 among chukars and pheasants imported from Hong Kong. The infection, which spread to five poultry farms in Contra Costa County, was quickly eliminated through the destruction of the infected chickens.

In 1971-1973, a major outbreak occurred in commercial poultry flocks in southern California. Poor security at a bird importer's premises led to contact between infected parrots from South America and neighboring commercial poultry. The disease spread rapidly within the Southern California commercial poultry population. Vaccination was widely used, but was not effective until aggressive destruction of infected birds and improved biosecurity were in place.

The disease threatened not only the California poultry industry but the entire U.S. poultry and egg supply. In all, 1,341 infected flocks were identified, and almost 12 million birds were destroyed. Eradication efforts cost taxpayers $56 million, severely disrupted the operations of many producers, and increased the prices of poultry and poultry products to consumers. Exotic Newcastle has not infected commercial chicken flocks in the United States since that outbreak was eradicated in 1974.

Exotic Newcastle Disease is also a serious threat to the caged bird industry. An END outbreak in caged birds in Florida in 1980 resulted in the death of approximately 8,000 birds and the depopulation of 30,307 birds in 23 states. It cost the USDA over $1 million.

In 1998, END was introduced into a small California flock of game fowl by a bird purchased from a local swap meet. The flock was quarantined and destroyed. Surveillance was completed on all backyard flocks in the area with no further infection detected.

On October 1, 2002 Exotic Newcastle disease was confirmed by the USDA, in game fowl near Los Angeles, CA. The outbreak involved approximately 3,000 birds in 6 backyard premises, 3 of which had birds with clinical signs. It has continued to spread.

As of February 14, 2003, the Federal quarantine area in California includes Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Santa Barbara, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Ventura counties. In Nevada it includes Clark and the southern tip of Nye counties, and in Arizona it includes Yuma, La Paz, and the southern portions of Mohave (below the Colorado River) counties.

USDA APHIS reports 2,073,894 birds have been put to death in CA, 239 in AZ and 2,205 in NV, a total of 2,076,338. Number of positive premises - 581 CA, 1 AZ, 8 NV, total 590. Number of premesis having some type of contact with these and also being depopulated - 1,201 CA, 3 AZ, 115 NV, total 1319. Total premises being depopulated 1,909. Total commercial flocks affected by END - 13 flocks. For more status information see Emergency Management Warning 42.


Symptoms of disease are highly variable and non-specific in caged birds. One of the classical signs of Exotic Newcastle Disease is tremors and involuntary shaking of head and body when the bird tries to move. Other signs may include anorexia, depression, diarrhea, paralysis, twisted neck, respiratory difficulty, eye discharge, weight loss, etc. Similar signs may be seen with other bird diseases. Laboratory testing is necessary to confirm a diagnosis of Exotic Newcastle Disease.

Information on END - Description, Cause, Diagnosis, Signs, etc. can be found at:

USDA APHIS Exotic Newcastle Disease: Clinical Signs and Disease Description
Paramyxovirus - Newcastle Disease
Velogenic Newcastle Disease - GrayBook
Brochures and Fact Sheets concerning Caged Birds and Disease Prevention from USDA and CDFA (California)
USDA END Fact Sheet January 2003
Fact Sheet: Exotic Newcastle Disease in Caged (Exotic) Birds - Information for Bird Owners - 01/07/03 CDFA
Exotic Newcastle Disease in Game Fowl, United States Impact Worksheet 10/09/02 - APHIS


Exotic Newcastle is spread primarily through direct contact between healthy birds and the bodily discharges of infected birds. The disease is transmitted through infected birds' droppings and secretions from the nose, mouth, and eyes. Exotic Newcastle spreads rapidly among birds kept in confinement, such as commercially raised chickens. It easily contaminates hands, clothing, shoes, cages, and equipment. A diagram of how the disease spreads can be seen at

High concentrations of the exotic Newcastle virus are in birds' bodily discharges. Therefore, the disease can be spread easily by mechanical means. Virus-bearing material can be picked up on shoes and clothing and carried from an infected flock to a healthy one. The disease is often spread by vaccination and debeaking crews, manure haulers, rendering-truck drivers, feed delivery personnel, poultry buyers, egg service people, and poultry farm owners and employees.

The exotic Newcastle virus can survive for several weeks in a warm and humid environment on birds' feathers, manure, and other materials. It can survive indefinitely in frozen material. However, the virus is destroyed rapidly by dehydration and by the ultraviolet rays in sunlight.

Smuggled pet birds, especially Amazon parrots from Latin America, pose a great risk of introducing exotic Newcastle into U.S. poultry flocks. Amazon parrots that are carriers of the disease but do not show symptoms are capable of shedding exotic Newcastle virus for more than 400 days. Anyone who is offering to sell a large number of young parrots should be suspected of smuggling or purchasing smuggled birds.

Incubation varies from two to 17 days depending on the species of the bird, management factors, concurrent infections, etc.

Treatment and Control: There is no treatment for END. Vaccination strategies should be discussed with your veterinarian. Use biosecurity measures to prevent diseases from affecting your birds


Prevention is the best protection. If in an END area, protect your birds with with biosecurity measures. Here are links on what to do.

Fact Sheet: Biosecurity Guidelines to Prevent the Spread of Exotic Newcastle Disease - Information for Bird Owners CDFA
Biosecurity Footbaths for Exotic Newcastle Disease - Information for Bird Owners CDFA
U.C. Davis Disease Control & Biosecurity
Sanitation-Disinfection Basics UCDavis
Recommendations to Prevent the Spread of Exotic Newcastle Disease - Commercial Flocks UCDavis
Recommendations to Prevent the Spread of Exotic Newcastle Disease - Small Flocks
Biosecurity for Poultry Flocks

Pet Birds
Owners and buyers of pet birds should: 1) Request certification from suppliers that birds are legally imported or are of U.S. stock, are healthy prior to shipment, and will be transported in new or thoroughly disinfected containers, 2) Maintain records of all sales and shipments of flocks, and 3) Isolate all newly purchased birds for at least 30 days. Restrict movement of personnel between new and old birds.

Prevention if near an END area

Sources and Links to additional information

USDA APHIS website
USDA APHIS Exotic Newcastle Disease (END)Page
California Department of Agriculture CDFA website
CDFA Newcastle Disease page
U.C. Davis Poultry Web Page
State of Nevada Exotic Newcastle Disease Page
Exotic Newcastle Disease in Southern Nevada - Dept of Wildlife
State of Arizona Exotic Newcastle Disease Page
BirdsnWays Exotic Newcastle Disease Information Page
Recently Published APHIS Rules & Notices

Quarantine Policies & Information
Comparing State and Federal Quarantines for Exotic Newcastle Disease in California 01/07/03
Information for Bird owners - Questions and Answers on Regional Bird Quarantine 01/07/03 CA (English & Spanish)
END Task Force Expands Opportunities for Home Quarantine and Isolation for Caged Birds 02/13/03 CDFA
Exotic Newcastle Disease Policy on Pet and Exotic Birds 02/13/03 CDFA


USDA APHIS Toll-Free Hotline: 1-800-940-6524

Cooperative Extension CA

  • Dr. Francine Bradley, (530) 752-6316
  • Dr. Carol Cardona, (530) 7545041,
  • Dr. Ralph Ernst, (530) 752-3513,
  • Doug Kuney, (909) 787-2099,

    California CDFA

  • Phone: (916) 654-1447 Fax: (916) 653-2215
  • CDFA END page
  • Redding District: (530) 225-2140
  • Modesto District: (209) 491-9350
  • Tulare District: (559) 685-3500
  • Ontario District: (909) 947-4462
  • USDA-VS Area Office: (916) 857-6170 (877) 741-3690
  • Exotic Newcastle Disease Hotline: 1-800-491-1899


  • State of Nevada END page
  • Nevada END Hotline (866)-490-2991
  • Nevada Department of Agriculture hotline(702)-515-5200.
  • Las Vegas - 702 486-4690
  • Reno - 1-888-228-5239
  • Rural Nevada - 1-800-992-0900


  • State of Arizona Exotic Newcastle Disease Page
  • AZDA END hotline (888)-742-5334

    Winged Wisdom Note: Carol and husband Kenneth have owned pet birds for over 13 years and are co-creators of the Birds n Ways, Winged Wisdom and Cockatoo Heaven websites.

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