Posted 04-10-2003 at 07:54:03
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Virus causes bird quarantine
Diana Washington Valdez
El Paso Times
A virus that attacks and often decimates entire flocks of birds and poultry has apparently been detected in the Socorro area, prompting animal health officials to impose a quarantine on such fowl as parrots and chickens in El Paso and three adjacent counties.
"The quarantine is to prevent the movement of birds between these places until we are sure that the virus is contained," said Terry Conger, state epidemiologist and veterinarian at the Texas Animal Health Commission in Austin. "Preliminary tests that use DNA fingerprinting indicate that the virus is exotic Newcastle disease. We will have the final lab results (today), but we are operating under the assumption that it is the disease."
Conger said the test for the virus was conducted Saturday after the owner of more than 100 game fowl reported that a large number of his roosters had died.
"The roosters were raised for cockfights in New Mexico, where it is legal to have them," Conger said. "I believed we depopulated (destroyed) 100 to 150. There was fowl across the fence and across the road, and to be on the safe side, we destroyed them, too."
The disease can severely damage the poultry and bird industry, officials said. Poultry kept in back yards and even pet parrots can carry the disease.
"Bird and poultry owners must not move birds from the El Paso area," said Bob Hillman, executive director of the Texas Animal Health Commission.
A command post consisting of federal and state animal health officials has been set up to monitor the situation in El Paso.
"We are in the process of putting together a plan," zoo spokesman Rick Lobello said. "We are making changes in our education program, and we will not be taking any of our birds to the schools."
Texas animal health officials said they're not sure where the virus came from. It is illegal to transport birds and poultry across the border from Mexico.
Bird and poultry owners can call a special hot line to consult with experts or to request that their animals be tested at (800) 550-8242.
|Carla Everett ||
Posted 06-12-2003 at 10:42:27
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Texas Animal Health Commission
Box l2966 * Austin, Texas 78711 * (800)
550-8242 * FAX (512) 719-0719
Bob Hillman, DVM * Executive Director
For info, contact Carla Everett, information
officer, at 1-800-550-8242,
ext. 710, or email@example.com
New Mexico Livestock Board
300 San Mateo Blvd NE, Suite 1000
Albuquerque, NM 87108-1500 * (505)
841-6161 * FAX (505) 841-6160
Steven R. England, DVM * State Veterinarian
For immediate release:
Birds and Poultry Free to "Fly the Coop" --
Disease Quarantines Released in Texas and
With the exception of a very small area of
Socorro, in El Paso County, the
state and federal quarantines and movement
restrictions on birds and
poultry movement have been lifted on El Paso
Counties in Texas, and on Luna, Otero, and
Dona Anna Counties in New
Mexico. Since April 10, the five counties have
been quarantined, while
regulatory veterinarians and animal health
inspectors worked to eradicate
an outbreak of Exotic Newcastle Disease
(END) in El Paso County.
"We are very happy to announce that END, a
deadly foreign viral disease
that affects only birds and poultry, has been
wiped out in El Paso County.
This disease does not affect human health or
the safety of food, but it can
devastate bird and poultry operations," said
Dr. Bob Hillman, Texas state
veterinarian and head of the Texas Animal
Health Commission (TAHC), the
state's livestock and poultry health regulatory
"Thanks to the cooperation of bird owners and
the dedicated work of staff
from the TAHC, New Mexico Livestock Board,
other state agencies, and USDA,
this disease did not spread beyond one
backyard flock of birds," he said.
"To be certain, however, the teams tested
more than 800 flocks within the
five-county area and distributed disease
prevention information to dozens
of feed stores, producers, flea markets, pet
stores and other retail and
wholesale outlets where birds and
bird-related products are sold."
"With the exception of a very small area in
Socorro in El Paso County, all
movement restrictions in the five-county area
have been lifted, and bird
and poultry businesses and movement may
return to normal. As soon as the
USDA lifted its federal quarantines, the New
Mexico Livestock Board and the
TAHC lifted state-level restrictions. Feed
stores may sell chickens, pet
stores can market canaries, and other birds
and poultry can be moved into
or out of the counties," said Dr. Hillman.
He explained that Texas must maintain a
small, specified quarantined area
for six months to regain international trading
status for poultry and
poultry products. This area encompasses the
premises where END infection
was detected, along with a small buffer zone.
It is bounded by Tokay Avenue
on the north, Fredonia Street on the east,
Vineyard Road on the south, and
Muscat Street on the west. Birds may be
moved from this specific area only
under a permit issued by USDA or TAHC
"We have been particularly fortunate that END
did not become widespread in
Texas or New Mexico," commented Dr.
Hillman. "In southern California, an
END outbreak has been battled since October
2002, and it has spread among
backyard poultry and to 22 commercial poultry
operations. More than 3.5
million birds have been euthanized to stop the
spread of the disease.
Finally, it appears that eradication efforts are
going well. However,
because END is a foreign animal disease,
trade restrictions can be harsh,
and it will be some time before California fully
markets for poultry and poultry products."
"The key to eradicating disease is detecting it
as quickly as possible,
before it has an opportunity to spread.
Although END has been eradicated
in El Paso County, the virus could potentially
be reintroduced. The disease
is highly contagious, and if sick birds are
transported into the area,
another outbreak could begin. Also, the virus
can be carried from one site
to another on trucks or supplies, so it's
important to disinfect equipment
brought onto your property," he said.
"Check your flocks frequently for signs of
disease, such as gasping,
coughing, diarrhea or paralysis," said Dr.
Hillman. "If birds are sick, or
if there is unusual death loss, call your
veterinarian or animal health
officials, so that samples may be collected for
testing at the National
Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.
There is no charge for the
Dr. Hillman referred bird owners in Texas to
the TAHC's 24-hour hotline at
1-800-550-8242 or to the USDA's Veterinary
Services office in Texas at
512-916-5552. In New Mexico, bird owners
may call the New Mexico Livestock
Board at 505-841-6161 or the USDA's
Veterinary Services office in New
Mexico at 505-761-3160.
"When you watch out for your own birds, you're
protecting the entire
poultry and pet bird industry," said Dr. Hillman.
"Think of this as a
'neighborhood watch' program for poultry