Roving Reporter

January, 2003 - Most Current is Listed First

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End the END Slaughter!
January 31, 2003

It appears the outcries from all over the United States and even other countries have been heard by the CDFA. The massive killing of birds has been the subject of many protests especially due to the fact that actual END testing of birds has been so sparse. Only approximately 30% of premises were tested on the average and that is somewhat skewed since an entire flock will be destroyed if only one bird tests positive.

While this is certainly not the light at the end of the tunnel, it is at least an attempt at trying to recover a bit of respect that has been lost in the violent Task Force slaughter of so many birds in the State of CA.

The story appeared in The Press-Enterprise on Jan 31, 2003 and again, we congratulate that newspaper for excellent reporting as we have in the past. Please see the news article and read it carefully for yourself. (LINK)

We note that Rico was not silent and was directly quoted by the press as saying:

"We're not going to force anyone to have their birds euthanized," said Leticia Rico, California Department of Food and Agriculture spokeswoman. "We know it's traumatizing."

This is one small step in the right direction and we can only hope that her word will be kept by all Task Force persons involved.

In case you didn't notice the article that was issued by ProMed which is a report on the recent International Poultry Exposition in Atlanta, GA, we invite you to read the entire report. (LINK) We call your attention to the following remarks that reporter observed which are contained in this report:

"Now is the time for evaluation of the realities of the situation and the application of basic epidemiological principles relating to immunization. Experience with END in South Africa, Great Britain and elsewhere suggests that federal officials are following King Chanute in trying to reverse the tides.

There is an emerging rift between knowledgeable egg-industry veterinarians who favor quarantine, limited depletion and intensified vaccination, and regulatory veterinarians, who are pursuing a "traditional" program of detection and slaughter.

The situation demands a reappraisal of the effectiveness of vaccination for all flock -- both large and small -- and flexibility with regard to depletion of commercial poultry farms. Recent experiences during 2000 in controlling avian influenza in Italy and foot-and-mouth disease in Great Britain have demonstrated deficiencies with draconian program of detection and eradication. In fact, Britain and other European Union countries will apply vaccination as the principal control measure in future outbreaks of these catastrophic animal diseases."

Since Dr. Richard Breitmeyer of the CDFA was addressing a group of his peers, we hope that he takes their documented experiences to heart. We await his rapid consideration of the great changes that have been made in disease control in the last 30 years, rather than continuing on a road of total destruction and slaughter which leaves in its wake devastated owners whose flocks have been killed.

There is an urgent need for the recognition of home and commercial flock quarantine to be used in the eradication of this disease. It is time to urge that the CDFA and the UDSA explore techniques that have been implemented in more current times and cease reverting to outdated practices of the 1970's.

Should you wish to contact Dr. Breitmeyer to express support for the use of more modern control techniques in the current END outbreak and the abolishment of coercive slaughter, you may reach him at:

Director and State Veterinarian
Richard Breitmeyer, DVM, MPVM
1220 "N" Street, Room A-114
Sacramento, California 95814
Phone: 916-654-0881
Fax: 916-653-4249

We sincerely hope that we will indeed see this implemented in the very near future.

Two Reports Today
January 24, 2003

First - Many Premises Quarantined in the Antelope Valley

At least half a dozen quarantine signs have been reported in the Quartz Hill area of Lancaster near 32nd St West and L-2. There are reports of numerous quarantine locations in the Littlerock and Lake Los Angeles areas where it is purported there has been much depopulation and/or dying fowl.

Second - They think END is overblown!

Feed store operators are telling us that people are not reporting deaths or illnesses of their backyard fowl to the CDFA.

Stories coming from these owners tell of staggering losses to their birds. According to one woman, of her 120 backyard birds, only 3 remain. She was hoping she could ride it out and that the effects of END were just overblown and she found out differently.

We really do have to wonder how they are disposing of these deal fowl though and if they are making any attempts to disinfect their propery.

Some feed store operators are taking precautions by using footbaths and not allowing customers into the storage area where feed is kept.

Realistic Answers
January 2, 2003

In the early stages of the END outbreak, we saw wavering among the spokespersons as to who to blame this on. As of October 15, 2002:

"This disease has been found in small flocks of game chickens and in mixed poultry flocks". (Reference - UC List for END found at -LINK-)". At the same time, we note a spokespersons was hedging somewhat on her remarks to the North County Times stating:

===The disease most commonly infects chickens, Rico said. But other birds are also susceptible to the disease. Officials say the disease may have been brought to the area by Amazon parrots, who are known carriers of the disease but do not show symptoms and can carry the virus for more than 400 days.

"There is illegal bird smuggling in Southern California where exotic birds come in from south of the border," Rico said. (Reference - -(LINK-)===

On October 27, 2002, we noted that the Sherman Denison Herald Democrat, TX reported the following statement by Dicky Richardson, a Texas Animal Health Commission programs specialist who works with poultry disease:

===Richardson said procedures who visit a feed store, a neighbor's farm, coffee shop or grocery store should change their clothes and disinfect footwear before returning to their poultry houses. "It's just too easy to get clothing or footwear contaminated with a disease-causing virus and then carry it home," he said." (Reference - This article is no longer online at the Sherman Denison Herald Democrat, TX but is available at -(LINK-)===

Even at October 31, we see:

"At this point this is believed to be an area outbreak that is primarily in small flocks of chickens. No links have been found to birds in other areas or other states. No chickens have been found infected that would be classified as commercial egg or meat poultry. Some birds of other spies have probably been depopulated because they were considered to have had dangerous contacts with infected chickens." It continues "Chickens are the primary birds that have been found infected. One pigeon and one peafowl have been confirmed positive. Both were thought to be in direct contact with infected chickens. This does not mean that other species can't become infected but they probably have not been exposed." (Reference - UC List for END found at - (LINK-)

Continuing on to December 20, 2002 we see the following reported by the UC List for END List following the 3 p.m. conference call with Task Force on 12/20/02:

"END positive chickens continue to be found in the quarantine area with active disease. Dr. Breitmeyer, State Veterinarian, reported that the situation appears to be more dangerous than at any time during the current outbreak due to the large number of virus positive flocks found recently. The poultry on 504 premises have now been depopulated and 3651 (almost double the number last week) premises are under quarantine. The depopulated birds have been mostly game fowl, pet chickens and other backyard fowl. Today the first suspect case (not yet confirmed) has been found in a commercial egg production flock." (Reference - UC List for END found at -(LINK-)

Based on all of the above, this outbreak certainly seems to have started in the gamefowl flocks. However, the authorities are still looking for the "mother bird". This is an excerpt from the Press-Enterprise story of January 1, 2003 (Reference - -(LINK-)

===Larry Hawkins, of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said Tuesday that investigators have been interviewing bird owners and visiting places such as feed stores where owners might congregate.

But he said they have yet to isolate what he calls the "mother bird," a bird or flock of fowl that was the initial source of the virus.

State and local officials have implied that fighting cocks may be the source of the deadly virus.

Hawkins brands the theory as speculation.

"I'm not saying it couldn't be true. But that is somebody's opinion, not a fact," Hawkins said. "There are too many other avenues for it to spread," he said.===

People are pointing fingers in both directions, at gamefowl and at parrots, yet even before this disease hit the commercial interests, we see the problem as being found only in backyard flocks.

Now, looking at this from a rational standpoint, the likelihood of finding the "mother bird" may prove to be totally impossible. What if there never was any "mother bird'? Please reflect on what Dicky Richardson stated above and add that to the biosecurity information that the CDFA has been distributing and there is another possible source of infection that seems to be eluding our authorities - that END was brought to Southern California by a PERSON and not a bird at all. This could be someone who went on a visit to Mexico (where END is still present in some areas) and carried the virus home on their shoes, the tires of their vehicles or many other sorts of vectors. Once home, perhaps that person then spread it to their own backyard flock or that of a neighbor or friend.

We are trying to stand back and take a realistic view of this situation and without pointing any fingers at anyone in particular. While the evidence so far seems to show that the virus has been found mainly in backyard fowl, there is no logical reason to blame parrots.

It seems quite reasonable to say that the END now found in the commercial poultry industry was taken there by people or equipment, since it is doubtful that anyone would have taken a personal bird into an egg ranch. Who is to say this is not how the entire outbreak began?

If you think about it, it's a very sensible answer based on the information we know about this virulent disease.

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