Virulent Newcastle Disease in California

With 13 confirmed cases of Virulent Newcastle Disease in California, poultry exhibitors should try to minimize disease risks for their flocks.

Fair season is here! That means that your birds may have more exposure to other flocks and may be more at risk for disease. A current outbreak of Virulent Newcastle Disease (VND) on the West Coast is a good reminder that it’s always important to keep a close eye on your flock’s health.

Thirteen cases of VND have been confirmed in California. Although this disease is currently a distance away from Michigan, it is important to know some basic information about VND.

VND is a contagious and fatal disease that affects all species of birds. Vaccination is effective and is commonly used, even though it does not offer 100 percent protection. However, in flocks where birds are unvaccinated, it can cause death in 100 percent of the birds.

The disease impacts the respiratory, digestive and nervous system of the bird; however, birds may carry the virus without showing any symptoms or clinical signs. While this disease is a concern in birds, it is not considered a public health risk and no human cases of VND have ever occurred from eating poultry products.

The signs and symptoms of VND are:

  • Sneezing, gasping, nasal discharge, coughing.
  • Greenish, watery diarrhea.
  • Depression, muscular tremors, droopy wings, twisted neck, circling, and complete paralysis.
  • Partial to complete drop in egg production and thin-shelled eggs.
  • Swelling of tissues around the eyes and in the neck.
  • Sudden death.
  • Increased flock mortality.

Whether you are getting ready for a show or not, it is always important to follow good biosecurity principles. It is also important to make sure you clean and disinfect your equipment, especially before and after a show.

An up-to-date list of cases and more information can be found on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website at If you have purchased birds that came from the San Bernardino and LA Metro areas of California since May 1, 2018, please contact Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development at 800-292-3939.

This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit To contact an expert in your area, visit, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

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