Local turkey producers warned to protect stock against disease outbreak
SALT LAKE CITY—Officials with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) are alerting Sanpete County turkey producers to step up their “flock security” following confirmation of a fatal and contagious poultry disease in the Spanish Fork area.
Dr. Robert Erickson, field veterinarian with the UDAF, said the flock of chickens had been quarantined and there were no reports of turkeys in the Sanpete Valley being contaminated.
A small flock of poultry (about 250 birds) tested positive for the virulent Newcastle Disease (vND) after three birds from California were introduced into the flock. The three birds that carried the disease and have died, Erickson said.
Although the disease is contagious, it can be stopped with disinfectants, Erickson said.
“Commercial poultry producers should use this as a reason to practice good hygiene and foot baths; and make sure they don’t bring in new birds, unless they know where they came from,” he said.
If turkey growers observe any sick or dying birds, it is vitally important to call the UDAF hotline immediately at (801) 520-4311.
This is the first confirmed case of vND in Utah. California, where the birds that caused the Utah outbreak came from, is experiencing a significant outbreak. That state has had 299 confirmed cases of vND since May 2018.
The disease does not pose a food safety concern. No human cases of vND have ever occurred from eating poultry products.
However, vND is a contagious and fatal viral disease that affects all species of birds, including poultry. Even birds that have been vaccinated are susceptible. Most birds die without showing any clinical signs. Signs in affected birds can include sudden death, sneezing, gasping for air, nasal discharge, coughing, green and watery diarrhea, drooping wings, tremors, circling, and swelling around the eyes and neck.
“The disease is spread when healthy birds come in contact with bodily fluids from infected birds, and contaminated surfaces,” said UDAF State Veterinarian, Dr. Barry Pittman.
The disease can be transmitted through manure, egg flats, crates, farming materials or equipment, vehicles, or through people who have handled these materials, and their clothing, hands and shoes.