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Archive Number 20030210.0361
Published Date 10-FEB-2003
Subject PRO/AH/EDR> Newcastle disease, game fowl, plty. - USA (CA) (07)
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail, a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: 10 Feb 2003
From: Julia Allen, PhD, DVM <>

The recent ProMED posting on the game bird (cockfighting) industry in 
California reinforces the comments made previously by Dr Richard 
Breitmeyer of the California Department of Food and Agriculture 
(ProMED 6 Feb 03), i.e., that END will certainly be maintained as an 
endemic disease in the backyard and game-fowl population in 
California and elsewhere.

Law enforcement has not been able to eliminate or even reduce the 
popularity of cockfighting in the 98 years of having legislation on 
the books. Therefore it is not likely that they will be able to do so 
now, even in the face of a disease crisis. When I worked on Saipan - 
where cockfighting is legal - it was big business, very big business, 
especially the betting. I suspect the same is true here.

Therefore, continuing to pursue a "traditional" program of detection 
and slaughter to control a disease which is present in a population 
of animals that is used for illegal activity, would seem to be 
ignoring reality. (Please note, I am opposed to cockfighting and do 
think it should be eliminated.)

In light of this, has there been any movement on the part of the 
poultry industry or the regulatory agencies toward using quarantine, 
limited depletion, and intensified vaccination as recommended by Dr 

Actually, I would put biosecurity at the top of the list of things to 
do.  I worked in England for 60 days on the Foot and Mouth Disease 
outbreak in 2001.  Those farmers that appealed their depopulation 
orders and won their appeal, did so based on their demonstrable 
biosecurity measures. None of those farms became infected, and some 
were eventually the only ones left in a landscape devoid of livestock.

Regulatory agency resources might be better utilized to assess, 
recommend, and supervise (i.e., enforce) farm-level biosecurity.   Be 
it END, foot and mouth disease, or anything else for that matter, 
strict and ongoing biosecurity programs aimed at preventing the 
movement of disease agents to or from a farm are critical for the 
survival of animal agriculture in the 21st century.

Julia N Allen, PhD, DVM
Emergency Management Animal Services
Seattle WA 98199 USA

[Dr. Allen's letter highlights the need for other measures, such as 
education of the animal owners, or perhaps trainers and fighters. To 
that end, the following article from the Ponca City News follows 
appropriately. Lastly, there are the questions regarding 
vaccinations/quarantines, which are addressed later in this post 
through an inquiry and response from the USDA. - Mod.TG]

Date: 10 Feb 2003
From: Humanitarian Resources Institute, Stephen Apatow 
Source: Ponca City News [edited]

Lack of Reporting Complicates Outbreak of Foreign  Diseases
It appears reports associated with the foreign animal disease 
outbreak of Newcastle Disease in California and Nevada were 
complicated by non-commercial animal owners who did not take their 
birds to vets or a lab until after hundreds in the general [bird] 
population died.

This is said to be one of the factors that inhibited a rapid 
diagnosis, complicating the scope of containment and control of the 
outbreak. Education initiatives that target non-commercial animal 
owners represent a significant need nationwide. This is especially 
important in  the context of bioterrorism, agricultural security, and 
emergency preparedness (Agricultural Security and Emergency 
Protecting One of America's Critical Infrastructures:
< /biodefense/papers/ASEP-2001-12.html>

In the case of New Castle Disease, if an outbreak is not defined in 
its early stages, complex variables could accompany the infectious 
agent being firmly established prior to its recognition.
(APHIS Fact Sheet:

The seriousness of this discussion has been demonstrated by the rapid 
demographic spread of West Nile Virus throughout North America via 
migratory bird patterns (CDC: Migratory Birds and Spread of West Nile 
Virus in the Western Hemisphere:
USGS - Principle Migratory Routes from North  America:

In the case of Newcastle Disease, Psittacines and other birds can be 
reservoirs of infection and can continue to excrete virus for up to 
12 months after recovering from clinical disease.

NDV is capable of infecting a wide variety of avian species. In 
addition to poultry, more than 230 species from more than one half of 
the 50 orders of birds have been found to be susceptible to natural 
or experimental infections with avian paramyxoviruses:

When assessing the threat of foreign animal disease outbreaks on 
backyard farms, in areas such as Southern California, populations 
include socially distinct groups such as the Hispanic community, with 
cultural and linguistic differences, little discretionary income, and 
a significant percentage without health coverage.

In many cases, the high cost of veterinary services discourages the 
pursuit of animal health care, a factor that compromises mechanisms 
for disease reporting. In the light of this challenge, educational 
initiatives are needed to inform the general public on how to report 
sick or dead birds/animals to the appropriate agency in their state.

The following resources provide contact information for: Wildlife 
Reporting: Center for Biological Informatics of the U.S. Geological 
Survey United States Directory: Search State Contact: Department of 
Natural Resources:
< /geographic/us/state.html>

Domestic Pets/Commercial Reporting:
To report a plant or animal pest or disease, click on your state for 
APHIS  local contact information:

To strengthen rapid disease reporting, field veterinarians throughout 
the United States are now being provided access to educational 
resources associated with foreign animal disease recognition in an 
online study format (ProMED: International Society for Infectious 
Diseases - Announcements 2003 (01):

Humanitarian Resources Institute
Stephen Apatow

Date: 6 Feb 2003
From: Miguel E. Escobar, DVM <>

"Question for the forum: Were the positive birds previously 
vaccinated against Newcastle Disease? What vaccines were used: Live? 
Killed?  Both?"

It is important to know whether a campaign vaccinating 100 percent of 
the population of the game birds and companion avian pets could 
prevent the problem.

Miguel E. Escobar, DVM
Leawood, KS 66224

Date: 6 Feb 2003
From: Thomas Walton <>

The following is APHIS' official response, for attribution:

"The State-Federal END (exotic Newcastle disease) Task Force 
personnel report that some of the backyard fowl in the CA outbreak 
have been vaccinated.  Vials of Newcastle disease virus vaccine of 
Mexican origin have been discovered on some of the depopulated 

It has been reported that vaccination of poultry during the outbreak 
in the early 1970s in CA was not helpful to control the outbreak.  It 
has been suggested that, in fact, the vaccination program may have 
been responsible for spreading the virus because of poor biosecurity 
by the vaccination crews.

During the outbreak of END in Mexico in 2000, a vaccination program 
with attenuated virus vaccine that is widely used throughout the 
commercial poultry industry in the US was used.  Producers sustained 
heavy losses with this vaccination program; the program was based on 
off-label use of 1/2 doses of vaccine instead of full doses. 
Nevertheless, it is likely that END virus exposure would overcome the 
immunity provided by attenuated virus vaccination alone.  After the 
2000 outbreak in Mexico, the government-mandated vaccination program 
employed in commercial chickens was a combination of inactivated and 
attenuated virus at one day of age and again at 8-12 days of age, 
followed by attenuated virus vaccination every 2 weeks thereafter. 
Vaccine efficacy studies after the outbreak concluded that attenuated 
virus vaccines alone will not control END, and 2 doses of inactivated 
virus vaccine doses in the face of END virus challenge are effective 
in preventing clinical disease, but not infection and shedding of 
virulent END virus.

There have been discussions with poultry experts and the 
State-Federal Task Force Incident Commanders about END vaccination 
issues, including possible vaccination of backyard fowl, perimeter 
vaccination of premises with back yard poultry/game fowl located 
around commercial poultry premises, and flock vaccination in the 
unlikely event that there are any unvaccinated commercial poultry 
premises.  It is believed that all END virus vaccines can reduce 
virus shedding and reduce the severity of clinical signs of disease, 
but vaccines do not prevent infection, virus  shedding, and the 
development of infected virulent virus carriers. Attenuated viruses 
can re-circulate from vaccine virus carrier birds and could cause 
clinical disease in incompletely immunized or unvaccinated birds.

Vaccines considered are:

- an attenuated virus vaccine that is easy to administer 
(intraocularly) and provides good immunity.  Vaccinated birds cannot 
be differentiated serologically from END virus-infected birds, the 
vaccine does not prevent infection with END virus which can be shed 
from vaccinated birds, vaccine virus can be shed by vaccinated birds, 
vaccine may mask infection with END virus, 
recombination/recirculation of vaccine and END viruses may occur, and 
there are some disease or production losses associated with 

- inactivated virus vaccines stimulate a good antibody response. 
These are administered intramuscularly, are labor-intensive, and 
share many of the shortcomings of attenuated virus vaccines.

-  a recombinant chimeric vaccine that would permit serologic 
differentiation of vaccinated from infected birds.  The vaccine is 
not available in the US, but likely shares many of the shortcomings 
of attenuated virus vaccines.

- a recombinant fowl pox vectored vaccine.  The onset of immunity is 
reputed to be slow, and the vaccine likely shares many of the 
shortcomings of attenuated virus vaccines.

Implementation of a backyard fowl vaccination program has been 
considered.  However, the Task Force personnel have the impression 
that a large percentage of the industry currently is vaccinating with 
some product at various intervals, but there is no standardized 
program in place.  A standardized vaccination program would likely 
reduce the amount of virus in the environment.  Use of intraocular 
attenuated virus vaccine would be most consistent with current 
industry practice, but may make the presence of END more difficult to 
detect and is likely to cause some vaccine-related disease.  It is 
unclear how the initiation of an attenuated virus vaccine program 
would affect our ability to eradicate END.

In summary, the use of various vaccines has been considered and while 
the option has not been rejected, due to the limitations of vaccines, 
they are not believed to be a real solution to the problem. There is 
also the issue -- a major difficulty all along in this outbreak -- 
that not all backyard flock owners are readily identifiable.  In 
fact, some owners may be obscuring the existence of their birds 
deliberately due to associated illegal activities."


[see also:
Newcastle disease, game birds, poultry - USA (CA) (06) 20030209.0353
Newcastle disease, game birds - USA (AZ): OIE      20030208.0337
Newcastle disease, game fowl, plty. - USA (west)      20030206.0318
Newcastle disease, game fowl, plty. - USA (CA,NV) (02) 20030204.0304
Newcastle disease, poultry - USA (AZ): suspected      20030202.0289
Newcastle disease, game fowl, poultry - USA: control      20030129.0260
Newcastle disease, U.S. poultry ban extended - Mexico      20030127.0247
Newcastle disease, game fowl, poultry - USA (CA, NV)      20030127.0246
Newcastle disease, game birds - USA (NV) (02) 20030126.0237
Newcastle disease, game birds, poultry - USA (CA) (05) 20030117.0145
Newcastle disease, game birds - USA (NV)      20030117.0138
Newcastle disease, game birds, poultry - USA (CA)      20030103.0014
Newcastle disease, game birds, poultry - USA (CA)      20021228.6147
Newcastle disease, game birds - USA (CA) (11) 20021221.6104
Newcastle disease, game birds - USA (CA) (02) 20021012.5533
Newcastle disease, game birds - USA (TX): warning      20021006.5482
Newcastle disease, game birds - USA (CA): OIE      20021004.5468]
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