Planting Seeds - Food & Farming News from CDFA

Virulent Newcastle Disease detected in Arizona

Announcement by the USDA

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed the presence of virulent Newcastle disease (VND) in a small flock of pet chickens in Coconino County, Arizona. This is the first case of VND in Arizona.

This case is believed to be connected to the current outbreak of virulent Newcastle disease in California, as tests show the virus is almost identical to the virus causing disease in California. Since May 2018, more than 400 cases of VND have been confirmed as part of the southern California outbreak, primarily in backyard exhibition birds.

Virulent Newcastle disease is not a food safety concern. No human cases of the 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.

APHIS is working with the Arizona Department of Agriculture to respond to the finding. Federal and State partners are also conducting additional surveillance and testing in the area.

It is essential that all bird owners follow good biosecurity practices to help protect their birds from infectious diseases. These include simple steps like washing hands and scrubbing boots before and after entering a poultry area; cleaning and disinfecting tires and equipment before moving them off the property; and isolating any birds returning from shows for 30 days before placing them with the rest of the flock.

In addition to practicing good biosecurity, all bird owners should report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to their veterinarian or to State veterinary officials. Additional information on biosecurity for all poultry flocks can be found at

More information about VND in California

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18 Responses to Virulent Newcastle Disease detected in Arizona

  1. Rosland Skiff says:

    How did the virus get across state lines if there is no shipping usps zip codes 90000-93599. Birds/eggs had to be driven across the border. Is border patrol aware of this ? Are they trained to look for any smuggled birds? Could it have been someone going into a quarantined area and not using bio security on shoes, tires etc.? Has it been determined how this got across state lines?

  2. sara smith says:

    its probly in many more states and people dont even know there flocks have it yet

  3. Steve Duncan says:

    Because it gets moved when people move their “backyard chickens” or “exhibition chickens” which is code for fighting cocks. Cockfights are illegal anyway so the movement of these chickens is already underground and difficult to stop. Sure, it can be on your clothing or equipment too if you’re exposed to infected chickens, but the main factor in the spread of the virus is the movement of fighting cocks.

    • Michael says:

      I agree with what you say with one exception: “Backyard chickens” and “exhibition chickens” are no more “code words” for fighting cocks (or “showbird breeder” for cocker) than “cowboy” is a code word for cattle rustler, “sailor” a code word for sea pirate, or “driver” a code word for drunk driver.

      In each case the second group is a small subset of the first, and much larger, group.

      • Steve Duncan says:

        That’s correct. We are in agreement. To use your example, cattle rustlers steal cattle, but it would not be acceptable to say that cowboys are responsible for stealing cattle. I think most cowboys would be upset about being lumped together with such criminals. Same goes for the many people who keep backyard chickens being lumped in with those who spread VND. I am simply clarifying the responsible parties. The movement is due to fighting-cock movement, not because of someone’s egg-layer or showgirl silkie.

  4. Serama mama says:

    Rosland Skiff

    California just recently, within the last month closed down shipping to specific area codes, so birds have been allowed to ship into and out of those area codes for an entire year that the disease has been active.

    California is urging flock owners to practice good biosecurity, but has failed to set a good example by allowing birds to ship into and out of the state up until recently. There were non-commercial birds that tested positive in I believe either Utah or Idaho earlier this year as well, and those birds were identified as being shipped directly from an area code with active disease.

    Wild birds also carry the disease, especially migratory birds so transmission can take place like that as well. It truly is a sad case.

  5. Barb says:

    This concerns me greatly. I have chickens and ducks. A huge wetland in front of my house in which thousands of migratory birds come to nest from the south. I can see an outbreak happening here from the wild birds. Scary.

  6. Kathy M says:

    How is stopping birds/eggs IN from non effected areas helping? I can see stopping shipments out, but many of us are many miles from any outbreak, and shipping in froma clean area shouldn’t be an issue.

  7. April says:

    I’m in Florida and I’m a bit confused. If the possibility that this disease could be within the cock fighting underground then how does the disease stop with killing law abiding citizens with healthy chickens? They could kill all the chickens in the surrounding area and if they can’t catch the illegal fighting birds they will just keep spreading. So others have suffer because of others illegal activities?

    • Office of Public Affairs says:

      Thank you for your question. All bird movement spreads the disease. It is important to understand that owning a type of bird that may be used for fighting is legal in California. Fighting it, however, is illegal.

  8. Aislyn Rozema says:

    I live in Oceanside California

    I have not seen an update on V.N.D yet so i just wanted to know if it has spread closer or into the city

    I have 3 Parrots that I care about on a deep level
    so this would be very helpful

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