Virulent Newcastle Disease Outbreak Information and Resources

After 2 years, California has been declared free of virulent Newcastle Disease. Effective June 1, 2020 the CDFA and the USDA have announced an end to the vND quarantine in southern California. 

You can read the CDFA press release here

Data on the 2018-20 vND Outbreak in California:

Overview of virulent Newcastle Disease:

Virulent Newcastle Disease is a highly contagious and deadly virus in birds; the virus is found in respiratory discharges and feces. Clinical signs in birds include: 

  • Sneezing 
    Example of twisted neck (PC: Pamela Hullinger).
    Example of twisted neck (PC: Pamela Hullinger).
  • Coughing 
  • Nasal discharge 
  • Green watery diarrhea 
  • Depression
  • Neck twisting 
  • Circling 
  • Muscle tremors 
  • Paralysis
  • Decreased egg production 
  • Swelling around eyes and neck 
  • Sudden death 

CDFA Signs of Disease Printout

It is essential that all poultry owners follow good biosecurity practices to help protect their birds from infectious diseases such as Newcastle. These include simple steps like:

  • Washing hands before and after entering a poultry area
  • Using dedicated shoes and clothes when caring for birds and do not to use/wear those clothes/shoes in other areas.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting tires and equipment before moving them off the property
  • Not borrowing or buying "used" poultry equipment
  • Ensuring waterers and feeders are kept clean
  • Limiting contact with wild birds

Virulent Newcastle disease is not a food safety concern. No human cases of Newcastle disease have ever occurred from eating poultry products. Properly cooked poultry products are safe to eat. In very rare instances people working directly with sick birds can become infected. Symptoms are usually very mild, and limited to conjunctivitis and/or influenza-like symptoms. Infection is easily prevented by using standard personal protective equipment. 


Additional information on biosecurity and best practices to protect your flock can be found at:

Reporting and Necropsy Services

In addition to practicing good biosecurity, all bird owners should report sick birds or unusual bird deaths through California’s Sick Bird Hotline at 866-922-BIRD (2473). 

Sick or dead backyard birds can be submitted to CAHFS laboratories for post-mortem examination ($20 plus shipping and handling). Information on this program can be found on the CAHFS website. The test requested would be a "Necropsy exam - Backyard birds" (Test Code 10843).

For additional information on who to contact for issues regarding poultry, see Find an Expert or contact Dr. Maurice Pitesky at 530-219-1407 or


Please feel free to share widely.