>From ProMed:
Date: Wed, 29 Jan 2003 20:46:05 -0500 (EST)
From: ProMED <promed@promed.isid.harvard.edu>
Subject: PRO/AH> Newcastle disease, game fowl, poultry - USA: control
Date: 28 Jan 2003
Source: meatingplace.com [edited]

SPECIAL IPE REPORT: Exotic Newcastle 'wake-up call' for poultry industry,
vet warns

Speaking to an audience of industry veterinarians and production managers,
Dr. Richard Breitmeyer of the California Department of Food and Agriculture
warned that the current crisis surrounding an outbreak of exotic Newcastle
disease (END) could get even more complicated. "We have an extensive
high-risk situation because of the concentration of
poultry in the 4 affected counties [in California]," Breitmeyer said.
"There is a serious situation here that has deteriorated during the past 6

Breitmeyer's remarks came during a special program on the last day of the
International Poultry Exposition held here last week.

Since the initial diagnosis in a game fowl flock in October 2002, the
disease has spread among backyard poultry flocks, exotic specialty birds,
and fighting cocks in 4 Southern California counties, and on 19 Dec 2002,
commercial laying hens. According to Breitmeyer, by 23 Jan 2003, some 7000
premises had been quarantined and more than 75 000 non-commercial birds

The magnitude of the problem lies in the estimate of 50 000 owners holding,
fighting, and breeding about 3 million game fowl in Southern California
alone. Deficiencies in biosecurity, a failure to maintain the quarantine,
and the embargo on movement of birds places the entire California
commercial flock -- 24 million egg-producing hens, 38 million broilers, and
8 million turkeys -- at risk.

"We really have a challenge," said Breitmeyer, citing communications
problems with [members of] the East Los Angeles Hispanic community who own
game fowl, as well as the logistical problems of detecting infected flocks,
confirming a diagnosis of END, and destroying the birds. He outlined the
Incident Command Response Function established to contain and eradicate the
outbreak, and emphasized the need for active surveillance and restriction
bird movement egg-packing equipment among commercial units.

As of 20 Jan 2003, 6 farms housing 1.8 million hens have been depopulated.

The bottom-line message from the program is that the federal authorities
from USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) and
California officials are apparently going to replay the 1971 scenario, in
which eradication of END required 3 years and involved the destruction of
million commercial hens and other birds at a cost of $60 million. The
regulators do not seem to appreciate the economic impact of a prolonged
eradication campaign and the inevitability of the disease continuing to
spread, given the certainty of endemic infection of the backyard and
game-fowl population.

Now is the time for evaluation of the realities of the situation and the
application of basic epidemiological principles relating to immunization.
Experience with END in South Africa, Great Britain, and elsewhere suggests
that federal officials are trying to reverse the tide.

There is an emerging rift between knowledgeable egg-industry veterinarians
who favor quarantine, limited depletion, and intensified vaccination, and
regulatory veterinarians, who are pursuing a "traditional" program of
detection and slaughter.

The situation demands a reappraisal of the effectiveness of vaccination for
all flocks -- both large and small -- and flexibility with regard to
depletion of commercial poultry farms. Recent experiences during 2000 in
controlling avian influenza in Italy and foot-and-mouth disease in Great
Britain have demonstrated the deficiencies of a draconian program of
detection and eradication. In fact, Britain and other European Union
countries will apply vaccination as the principal control measure in future
outbreaks of these catastrophic animal diseases.

This observer could not discern even the slightest "light at the end of the
tunnel" message from Breitmeyer's IPE presentation. With no clear
of how and when the END outbreak will be eradicated, or the parameters of
"victory," the Southern California egg industry should recognize its
collective vulnerability and move to enhance both vaccination and

The California broiler industry located north of the Tehachapi range is
currently unaffected, but movement of poultry along Interstate 5 must be
controlled as an adjunct to heightened biosecurity measures to prevent
introduction of END infection.

[Byline: Simon Shane]