A rooster in Redwood City (the Bay Area of California) has tested positive for Newcastle disease. The virus is deadly and known to kill chickens by the flock, disrupting the food supply which is already perched precariously in this volatile economy.
This outbreak is so worrisome that the San Mateo County Fair canceled its upcoming poultry show out of an abundance of caution. Usually, about 250 people show chickens at the June event and it’s popular with children who participate in 4-H activities.
Newcastle disease has been devastating to poultry farmers in Southern California but this is the first time a case has been confirmed in the northern part of the state, according to a report by a CBS local affiliate in San Francisco. Last year, an outbreak killed tens of thousands of chickens in Southern California. Back in 2002, an 11-month-long outbreak killed 3.1 million birds and cost around $161 million. “The worry is it would get into the California poultry industry; California has a very large poultry industry,” veterinarian Tina Peak said.
Peak is one of the very few veterinarians still seeing chickens in Redwood City after the confirmed case. She’s only treating them in the parking lot as a precaution as of right now. “It spreads rapidly and it’s very, very deadly,” Peak said of Newcastle disease. Peak sees many clients who simply own a few chickens in their yards, not just farmers with a large flock of birds, so closing the practice is impractical.
According to a CBS local affiliate in San Francisco, owning your own chickens has become increasingly “trendy,” (very fashionable or in style). Peak warns California’s trend-setting chicken owners not to move their birds and to clean up after handling them in the aftermath of this viral outbreak news. Hilary Yoffe-Sharp owns about a dozen chickens, all of which were rescued from the humane society. She just learned about Newcastle disease and says she’s very concerned. “We’ll definitely be monitoring the situation to make sure our birds stay healthy and safe,” Yoffe-Sharp said.