Roving Reporter

October, 2002

DISCLAIMER: This is submitted by an anonymous source and has been totally verified. Do not contact us for any further information since this is the only infomation we have at the current time! The identity must be protected since the reporter must protect the sources. Some/much of this information was obtained due solely to personal contacts who do not wish their identities known to State Authorities. If you have any verifiable information that you can add, send email and we will pass the information on to the proper person. Specific inquiries or questions will NOT be answered.
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Roving Reporter
Update - October 23, 2002
Newcastle reporting finally makes the "big time"
No end to END in sight - See UC END Releases
CNN, on 10/22/02, finally made note of California's newcastle outbreak. Fast reporting ?? on the part of CNN of this outbreak certainly helped in the containment process.
A LOT of other media types also jumped on the bandwagon on reporting the END outbreak in California and the news is spreading like wildfire on a national level as well. The information for the most part is the same except it does mention a Norwalk location that was depopulated on Monday of about 100 birds including, chickens, parrots, parakeets and cockatiels. The outbreak looks like it is starting to reach more heavily into the pet bird family.
After seeing CNN and other media sources report this, the Los Angeles Times must have woken up and decided this was newsworthy. They included two separate articles on 10/23/02. The Regional article is generalized about END, the Inland Valley Voice article goes into more detail regarding poultry farmers.
One interesting item of note is that Ms. Rico has changed her tune slightly regarding the source of this outbreak. Her comments in the regional section now state "it could have started with the illegal importation of birds such as fighting cocks and protected species of parrots." Since it will never be able to be traced back to one particular bird, it is refreshing that parrot owners will not take the brunt of the blame.
Another interesting item of note is that Ms. Rico has said this outbreak is possibly due to migrating wild birds. If she and others would check the calendar, September is not the time when birds migrate to the north from south of the border. The only large scale south to north migration in September would be those with green cards and those who do not have them.

Roving Reporter
Update October 18, 2002
Two things of note happened on October 17, 2002. First an article in the North County Times, a San Diego county newspaper. Second The CDFA sent faxes to many feed stores to inform them on Exotic Newcastle and a sheet of recommendations to prevent spreading END.
In the North County Times article two things caught my eye. The first was the CDFA attempting to lay blame on END to exotic illegal bird smuggling from south of the border. While I agree this is a very likely way the disease was brought to California, I disagree with what it was smuggled on. A Ms. Rico of the CDFA brought up Amazon parrots while totally ignoring smuggled game cocks and game fowl eggs. Game cocks and eggs are both smuggled into the U.S. in much larger numbers than Amazon parrots. Two states in Mexico also have large END problems that are not close to being under control. Game cocks and eggs smuggled in would likely be kept with existing domestic gamefowl flocks and the contamination could easily occur and spread from there. Not too many people I know of keep their Amazons in a chicken coop.
With the prices of domestic raised, hand tame Amazons ranging from under $500 to about $900 tops and for good quality fighting cocks over double the top figure what do you think is going to be smuggled more - a wild untamed common parrot to be a pet or a champion fighting bird that could make the owner money and "fame"?
The other thing that caught my eye was further proof of a lack of public knowledge on this outbreak. It mentioned a dairy operator who keeps a small public petting zoo in Wildomar, approximately 35 miles from the location of one END positive location in Norco. The petting zoo operator had no knowledge of the outbreak and he is in the agriculture industry within an effected county. Just think how a petting zoo could spread the disease..... it's mind boggling to me.
The CDFA did get a little proactive by faxing an information sheet to feed stores in at least effected areas. This was accompanied by a sheet from U.C. Davis on how to prevent the spread of Newcastle. Except for the fact that it was faxed to feed stores they looked like normal items of good information but nothing important. Nowhere in these sheets is a current outbreak mentioned. What they need to do is supply at least standard 8.5 x 11 sheets to be posters for public display. Feed stores can be asked in a cover letter to place these in prominent locations. Two posters should be provided, one in English and one in Spanish. The posters need to get attention, not provide all the needed information. Without public help and co-operation the CDFA is facing an almost impossible task and the public can not help unless they are informed. Too much information on a poster and more people will ignore it. What is needed is something simple so everyone will stop, read it in a matter of seconds and be informed.
I have made a quick example Poster and hopefully the State can see the concept I am trying to display.

Roving Reporter
October 17, 2002
This report is based entirely on reliable, knowledgeable sources from the good ole boy network and cannot be verified by official means or links. I personally feel that the information is both correct and reasonable.
Suspected cases of END have been in Southern California since at least mid-July. These cases were of a few people losing a small number of birds and not reporting it to the proper authorities. Many of the keepers of these flocks are not U.S. natives and do not know how things are done here and are afraid of any U.S. government type employees. That kept this from getting reported, however, they may have told friends, and feed stores heard about "something" killing a few game birds. To get the State involved somebody had to go to the State and tell them what was happening.
Many have questioned the number of birds depopulated vs. the number of locations. Using the statistics as of October 15, 2002, I agree that with only 16 locations having 5526 birds destoyed or an average of 345 birds per location, calling these backyard flocks does seem to be a bit of an exaggeration. I believe they are calling any location where they do not have regulated inspection a backyard flock.
I was also told the following. Gamefowl are sometimes kept in very urban locations by a few people who will actually move them INTO a house where a caretaker will watch over all of them. I have heard there are some sites where the interior of a house is almost completely filled with gamefowl in cages. The way these birds are kept are in contrary to good husbandry practices. Keeping birds in these conditions allows the owners to avoid problems with local zoning because the birds are not as obvious to animal control personnel. In some cases, backyard flocks may refer to living room, dining room and bedroom flocks. The inside of one house could easily hold 1,000 gamefowl in this situation, thus, making a bit more sense of the statisical averages.
The most recent official statement says the depopulated birds are being buried under three feet of dirt in common use landfills, however, I heard that some carcasses are being incinerated on site.
A recent semi-official statement reports: "All infected birds found so far have been in Los Angeles and Riverside Counties. Areas: 1. Lancaster, 2. Montebello/Pico Rivera, 3. Compton, 4. Norco/Corona."
My sources, however, tell me there are cases in Perris and Hemet also. Whether these are suspected cases awaiting confirmation by viral isolation or unreported cases making themselves known in the feed store good ole boy network I do not know.
On a personal side, I would not be surprised if the locations found are just the tip of what is going on. There is no coverage of Exotic Newcastle Disease in the L.A. Times (largest newspaper in Los Angeles county), only one small article in The Press-Enterprise (largest newspaper of Riverside county) on October 4, 2002 or La Opinion (largest hispanic newspaper on the West coast). Television and radio coverage is almost as poor.
To bring this under control, the people must be notified and asked to report any suspicious deaths in their flocks with the understanding that nothing bad will happen to them. That should be stressed even if there is a only a small number of birds to report. This is not being done.
The State must take a forceful, definitive stand on this problem now to avert major consequences by widely publicizing END in both English and Spanish by whatever means it takes in order to inform the community. Without State assertive action immediately, a disaster is in the making.

Roving Reporter
Update Number 2 - October 15, 2002
Live-turkey sales to Europe cut off
California farms have seen business interrupted by a European ban on U.S. poultry. The European Union halted all U.S. poultry imports, after a poultry disease was found in noncommercial Southern California birds. At least two farms, one in Sonoma County and one in Tulare County, are prevented from selling newly hatched turkeys to Europe. The California Poultry Federation says the ban also prevents squab exports
Reference URL CFBF

Roving Reporter
Update Number 2 - October 13, 2002
This just in from the California Farm Bureau Federation. The impact of this on the California poultry industry could be indeed severe.
Europe bans US poultry
Despite the fact that a disease outbreak is limited to noncommercial birds in Southern California, the European Union has banned all imports of poultry meat from any location in the United States. Nearly 54-hundred backyard chickens and other birds have been infected with exotic Newcastle disease, in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Europe then banned American poultry products, even though no commercial flocks have been affected.
Reference URL CFBF

Roving Reporter
Update Number 1 - October 13, 2002
In line with our suspicions which were arosed October 11, 2002 and partially reported October 12, 2002, there have been more outbreaks of END. A report has been issued dealing with Los Angeles and Riverside Counties. Nothing so far has been mentioned in regard to the Central Valley area which we had questioned yesterday, however, we would not be surprised at reports of discovery there. We have not yet been able to get any further information on that site. The "official statistics" to date are as follows:

Number of Premises Positive by Clinical Signs and Laboratory Findings: 13
Number of Premises Quarantined: 27
Number of Premises Depopulated: 11
Number of Premises under Surveillance: 107
Fowl Depopulated to Date: 5348
Premises Waiting to be Depopulated: 2
Reference URL ProMed Report 3

Roving Reporter
Update October 12, 2002
A California State Task Force has been organized composed of volunteering veterinarians in the State. According to information from one of the members, no new outbreaks of END have been found other than those initially reported.
What does this really mean? It means that vets in the State are concerned. It does not mean that the State is giving any information to these vets.
It means, basically, nothing other than those vets have been asked to report any cases they find, however, they have been required to do that by law for a very long time.
Among items we have received are two newspaper articles regarding the closure of the Fur and Feathers exhibit at the Big Fresno Fair. An interesting note is that one of the articles, from the Selma Enterprise, makes reference to cases in the valley. With Selma's location one can only assume they mean the central valley, which runs run the middle part of the State and can not be confused with the affected areas already reported.
I have attempted to contact the author of the article in question and hope to clarify this. I will report as soon as I receive a reply.
Reference URL Selma Enterprise Article

Roving Reporter
Update October 9, 2002
As a reminder, the CDFA is NOT recognizing the Newcastle vaccine as protection for Exotic Newcastle Disease. While it *may* protect your birds, if the State decides to depopulate, the vaccine will not change their minds irregardless of who gives the vacccine itself. This is because END is a different strain than the vaccine was developed for.
As of October 9, 2002 11:00 AM PDT, Delta is accepting birds for travel into and out of California with the Delta Pets First travel program and the agent I spoke with did not know anything about any restrictions except the normal 85 degree heat.

Roving Reporter
October 8, 2002
I was informed of the outbreak of Newcastle disease through an Internet email list on Sunday morning, October 6, 2002, and was informed that one of its sites of outbreak was in Lancaster, CA. I asked a certified avian vet what she knew of it that same day and she said she had not heard anything of an outbreak of ND.
One problem with the location being called Lancaster is the vast size of the area that is called that. The rough location called Lancaster, goes east/west maybe forty miles and north/south maybe twelve miles. While there are a few "neighborhood" names, the whole area is called Lancaster. The first report called the outbreak as being in gamefowl. Gamefowl could be any number of species and so I was somewhat relieved to find out it was fighting cocks since these are kept confined compared to quail or pheasant which were my first thoughts upon hearing gamefowl.
On Monday morning, October 7, 2002, I decided to try to get some information from the local Lancaster feed stores. I called a couple that I regularly do business with for my large animals and they had not heard anything on this outbreak. They are supposed to be informed they both told me and were very surprised to had not heard anything.
Today, October 8, 2002, I called and spoke with my local small animal vet and he had not heard anything on this outbreak and was very concerned and surprised and asked to be kept updated along with the feed stores. He is concerned for his clients and himself since he keeps a few pet chickens.
I spoke with one of the head vets in the Los Angeles County Department of Health. I could not get a location of the outbreak in Lancaster from her because........ she did not know! She has been attempting to get information on this from the State with very little luck. The State is supposed to be sending people door to door "interviewing" in the area of the location but will not tell her where it is. She is going try to volunteer some of her people to help so they can get some information through the backdoor, so to speak. The problem is that as the County vet said "this is an illegal activity, conducted by illegal people and the state is afraid of driving them further underground". She asked that I call her back if I find out where the affected location is. The vet I talked to spoke quite frankly to me as she assumed I was another vet, one located in Lancaster and I did not correct her on it. She said with the movement of these birds it could easily be as far as Fresno by now. She thinks the first cases could have been over a month ago and not reported. This was also on October 8, 2002.
While this may not affect many of you directly it has the potential to become a problem for many of us because of halts in shipping or wholesale "depopulation" (going door to door and killing ALL birds as has been done in the past). In a past outbreak they even pulled over a car passing through an area that was transporting exotics and placed the birds in a plastic bag which they connected to the exhaust pipe and gassed them on the side of the highway while the owners watched (this information was from a VERY reliable source). This was without the area being posted for quarantine.
While the State told our County Health Department they were going to inform feed stores, they have not done this. They also said they were going to get information to the California Veterinary Association for them to mail to members (which not all vets belong to).
I spoke with another well known avian vet in the Los Angeles area and all they knew is what they had seen on local TV which was very little. They had heard nothing further and had not received any mailings or phone calls from anyone. They are very concerned as to how to protect their client's birds.
I just talked to yet another feed store and this one did have a little information as to where the location of the infected flock was found, near Avenue E and 63rd Street East. This is about 10 miles away from "main, downtown" Lancaster. With the ability for this to be tracked on shoes, I will still be spraying my shoes with Nolvasan before I get in my car at any locations away from home.
This reporter is cooperating with the County Health Department Vet in order to send assistance where needed since the State is not giving the County any information.
Latest update from CDFA .... California Department of Food and Agriculture returned my call (1:30 PDT), and they confirmed an outbreak of ND in the Lancaster area and nothing more. They are not allowed to give any detailed location of the outbreak and informed me that they have not tested the effectiveness of the Newcastle vaccine as this is Exotic Newcastle and if they decide to depopulate vaccines will NOT count. She advised me not to remove any birds from my premises and to disinfect myself before I get in my car from ANY remote location. Needless to say, I did not tell her exactly where I live, and called on a cell phone registered to another location. They are keeping this too undercover for my taste and I will not give them a chance to trace me.
Last minute information! Through underground sources, this appears to be a NEW strain of Exotic Newcastle Disease brought from Mexico by a load of illegal fighting gamecocks and vaccine effectiveness is unknown at this time, although some believe it may offer some protection.
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