Virulent Newcastle Disease Outbreak

New from CDFA: (First found in flocks last May 2018 and more found this February 2019)

February 4, 2019: Two additional ranches with egg laying hens have been confirmed positive for vND. The first is a small ranch in San Bernardino County that was confirmed on January 22, 2019. The hens have been euthanized. The second is a larger commercial facility in Riverside County that was confirmed positive on February 1, 2019.

These findings are part of the ND outbreak that began May 2018 in backyard birds.
For a list of cases visit the USDA website at:

By moving quickly, to humanely euthanize affected flocks, we are eradicating the disease to prevent further spread and unnecessary suffering of these birds that would otherwise die from the virus.

Virulent Newcastle disease is a fatal respiratory virus in poultry. It is highly contagious, and birds die within days of being infected. There is no cure. Euthanasia is the only way to stop the spread of the virus and eradicate the disease. VND is primarily transmitted by the movement of infected birds, but also by people who have the virus on their clothes or shoes, and by equipment or vehicles that can carry and transport the disease from place to place.

It is critical that all bird owners follow good biosecurity practices to protect their birds and to stop the spread of the disease.

Simple steps:

  • Washing hands and scrubbing and disinfecting boots before and after entering a poultry area
  • Keeping birds and property clean and disease-free
  • Not moving birds on or off your property if you’re in an infected area
  • Cleaning and disinfecting equipment and tires, before moving them off the property.

Virulent Newcastle disease is not a food safety concern, and no human cases of the virus have occurred from eating poultry. Properly cooked poultry products are safe to eat. Human infection is easily prevented by using standard personal protective equipment and following sound biosecurity practices. In very rare instances, people working directly with sick birds can develop mild symptoms that are like conjunctivitis or the flu.

USDA/APHIS and CDFA will remain diligent in our joint efforts to stop the spread of the disease and eradicate the virus when, and where, it’s found.


sneezingcoughing nasal discharge green watery diarrhea 
depression neck twisting circling muscle tremors 
paralysisdecreased egg production swelling around eyes and neck sudden death 

Virulent Newcastle Disease Outbreak Information & Resources 

UC David website with information Click Here.

Full information on control measures from CDFA website Click Here.

Youtube PSA on Newcastle: Click Here.

Virulent Newcastle Disease Outbreak Information & Resources
Click Here.

In addition to practicing good biosecurity, all bird owners should report sick birds or unusual bird deaths through California’s Sick Bird Hotline at 866-922-BIRD (2473). Additional information on VND and biosecurity for backyard flocks can be found at CDFA's Virulent Newcastle Disease Updates webpage.

Sick or dead backyard birds can be submitted to CAHFS laboratories for post-mortem examination ($20 plus shipping and handling). Information on this program can be found at CDFA's CAHFS Laboratory Necropsy Services for California Backyard Poultry Owners webpage.

For additional information on who to contact for issues regarding backyard poultry, see Find an Expert or contact Dr. Maurice Pitesky at 530-219-1407 or [email protected].

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

May 18, 2018:

Hello backyard poultry enthusiasts,

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has identified a case of Virulent Newcastle Disease (VND) in a small flock of backyard exhibition chickens in Los Angeles County. The case was detected at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine’s California Animal Health & Food Safety Laboratory (CAHFS) when a private practitioner submitted a sick bird for testing. This is the first case of virulent Newcastle disease, previously referred to as exotic Newcastle disease, in the U.S. since 2003. CDFA is working with federal and local partners as well as poultry owners to respond to the finding. State officials have quarantined potentially exposed birds and are testing for the disease.

The USDA and CDFA's bird owner resource for this outbreak can be found here, and the Spanish version can be found here.

Virulent Newcastle Disease is a highly contagious and deadly virus in birds; virus is found in respiratory discharges & feces. Clinical signs in birds include:

It is essential that all poultry owners follow good biosecurity practices to help protect their birds from infectious diseases such as Newcastle. 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.

For backyard flock owners, biosecurity measures are to use dedicated shoes and clothes when caring for them and not to use/wear those clothes/shoes in other areas.

Additional information on biosecurity can be found at:

USDA Biosecurity for Birds

CDFA Backyard Biosecurity for Poultry

CDFA Disease Prevention Guide for Backyard an Pet Bird Owners

CPF Biosecurity Workshop Videos

Thoughts on vaccination against virulent Newcastle Disease (vND) from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine-Cooperative Extension

Please feel free to share widely.