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Newcastle disease in CA

 
Andrew Mayflower
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Location: Northern Puget Sound, Zone 8A
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Note, I don't live within 1000 miles of the affected area.  Putting this in the Ulcer Factory as I imagine the topic could get folk's emotions running high.

I saw recently a video put out by Reason, a libertarian minded publication, about the efforts by CA officials to contain the outbreak of Newcastle disease in 3 counties (LA, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties).  Sounds like the state Dept of Food And Agriculture is "euthanizing", forcibly in many cases, and reportedly not very humanely, backyard flocks of poultry.  In some cases even when the owners, at their own expense, had their flock tested and were negative for the disease and obeying the recommendations for confinement.

Now, I understand that Newcastle is highly contagious, and can be carried from a distant infected flock to an uninfected one by wild birds, or careless people.  And I get that it probably requires some extreme measures to contain and stop an outbreak.  But even if the state is doing the right thing, it seems like due process, and simple, basic humanity is being discarded in the rush to protect large commercial chicken operations.  

I'm interested in the opinions of those here on whether CA is right to require destruction of so many back yard flocks, and if so, if the people making a stink over it are justified in their reactions or if they're being overly dramatic and/or ignoring lots of opportunities to deal with the issue before it got to that point.

FTR, if I was ordered by the government to destroy my flock, and I either didn't have the resources to lawyer up and fight it, or had exhausted my avenues for remedies, I'd kill them myself before letting the goon squads come on my property and do it.  At least that way I could salvage the meat (Newcastle doesn't affect the safety of eating the meat), and know that my birds didn't suffer as reported in the video linked above.
 
Tereza Okava
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Ugh. We have had similar problems here with other respiratory diseases, and similar heartaches.
Newcastle is problematic because the virus can survive in frozen material almost indefinitely, so it is not unheard of to ban imports of chicken from an entire region or country to preserve poultry health in the importing country (i.e. CA stands to lose buckets of money if Asia stops importing eggs or chickens from the state, for example). They've been trying to stamp out Newcastle in CA for a few years now, because similarly, if you have an area free of a certain disease, imports go up.
There is no treatment, just euthanasia, and the only prevention is vaccines. I imagine CA is like here, some people here are resistant to vaccines, it's a complicated situation. I imagine the law focuses on eliminating the greater risk to the population and state as a whole (which seems similar in cases like recent measles outbreak, for example, large-scale risk versus personal choice). But if I had a backyard flock I bet I would share your conviction.
Edited to add: it probably would help a lot more, big picture, to undertake a PR campaign about how to eliminate the virus (solar irradiation, dehydration) and clamp down on introduction of smuggled wild birds and other vectors. How the birds are killed doesn't matter nearly so much as what is done with their environment to stop the cycle. Maybe there is a lot of public outreach going on, for all I know.
 
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