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Dear Gamefowl Enthusiast:

PLEASE BE AWARE OF THE DANGERS FACING YOUR BIRDS FROM EXOTIC NEWCASTLE DISEASE (END)! You can help keep this deadly disease from destroying gamefowl birds. Know the clinical signs, use safety precautions, and report sick birds to your appropriate State veterinary officials. This is an animal health emergency, if you do not cooperate—gamefowl everywhere could be endangered.


END is a contagious and fatal viral disease affecting all species of birds. Previously known as velogenic viscerotropic Newcastle disease (VVND), END is probably one of the most infectious diseases of poultry in the world. END is so virulent that many birds die without showing any clinical signs. END can infect and cause death even in vaccinated poultry and causes a death rate of almost 100 percent in unvaccinated poultry flocks.

END affects the respiratory, nervous, and digestive systems. The incubation period for the disease ranges from 2 to 15 days. An infected bird may exhibit the following signs:

• Respiratory: sneezing, gasping for air, nasal discharge, coughing;
• Digestive: greenish, watery diarrhea;
• Nervous: depression, muscular tremors, drooping wings, twisting of head and neck, circling, complete paralysis;
• Egg production: partial to complete drop in production and thin-shelled eggs;
• Appearance: swelling of the tissues around the eyes and in the neck;
• Mortality: sudden death and increased death loss in a flock.

END is spread primarily through direct contact between healthy birds and the bodily discharges of infected birds, which have high concentrations of the END virus. The disease is transmitted through infected birds' droppings and secretions from the nose, mouth, and eyes. END spreads rapidly among birds kept in confinement, such as commercially raised chickens.

The disease can also be easily spread by mechanical means. Shoes and clothing can pick up virus-bearing material and carry it from an infected flock to a healthy one. The disease is often spread by vaccination and debeaking crews, manure haulers, rendering truck drivers, feed delivery personnel, poultry buyers, egg service people, and poultry farm owners and employees.

The END virus can survive for several weeks in a warm and humid environment on birds' feathers, manure, and other materials. It can survive indefinitely in frozen material. However, the virus is destroyed rapidly by dehydration and by the ultraviolet rays in sunlight.


END is also a threat to the caged–bird industry and poultry hobbyists. Birds illegally smuggled into the United States are not quarantined and tested by APHIS and therefore may carry the END virus. Owners of pet birds should:

Request certification from suppliers that birds are legally imported or are of U.S. stock, are healthy prior to shipment, and will be transported in new or thoroughly disinfected containers;

• Maintain records of all sales and shipments of flocks;
• Isolate all newly purchased birds for at least 30 days;
• Restrict movement of personnel between new and old birds.


The only way to eradicate END from poultry is by rapidly destroying all infected flocks and imposing strict quarantine and in–depth surveillance programs. Poultry producers should strengthen biosecurity practices to prevent the introduction of the disease to their flocks.

Biosecurity is also important to protect backyard and hobby flocks. The following are tips on proper biosecurity practices:

• Permit only essential workers and vehicles on the premises.
• Provide clean clothing and disinfection facilities for employees.
• Clean and disinfect vehicles (including tires and undercarriages) entering and leaving the premises.
• Avoid visiting other poultry operations.
• Maintain an "all–in, all–out" philosophy of flock management with a single age flock.

–Control the movement of all poultry and poultry products from farm to farm.
–Clean and disinfect poultry houses between each lot of birds.

• Do not keep pet birds on the farm. Do not hire employees who own pet birds.

I. Protect flocks from wild birds that may try to nest in poultry houses or feed with domesticated birds.
II. Control movements associated with the disposal and handling of bird carcasses, litter, and manure.
III. Take diseased birds to a diagnostic laboratory for examination.


Poultry or pet bird owners or veterinarians who suspect a bird may have END should immediately contact State or Federal animal health authorities. For additional information, you can check out the following Web Site: or call the California END hotline at 1-800-491-1899. To contact the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Veterinary Services' Emergency Program Staff, call 301-734-8073, 800-940-6524 or email


As of February 6, 2003, the Federal quarantine area in California includes Imperial, Las Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Santa Barbara, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Ventura counties. In Nevada it includes Clark and the southern tip of Nye counties; and in Arizona Puma, La Paz, and southern portions of Mojave (below the Colorado River) counties. You can check the APHIS Web Site for any updates to the quarantine areas.


Due to the presence of END in the Federal quarantine area, no birds, bird products, and END-exposed materials or means of conveyance will be moved from a Federal quarantine area without a permit. Risk assessments that assure that movement will not present a risk of moving the END agent from the quarantine area are being completed. To inquire about a permit, contact the California END hotline at 1-800-491-1899. NOTE: If other areas become affected with END, APHIS will apply the same strategy as is applied within the current Federal quarantine area.

  Photo of chickens behind a wire fence.
For More Information

California END Hotline 800-491-1899

To contact APHIS Veterinary Services' Emergency Program Staff, call 301-734-8073, 800-940-6524 or email

APHIS International Services

California Department of Food and Agriculture

Nevada Department of Agriculture

Arizona Department of