Ag officials issue bird warning

Thursday, April 17, 2003

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- State agriculture officials are asking Missourians not to bring live birds from Texas and New Mexico into this state.

The request issued Wednesday by the state Agriculture Department comes on the heels of a confirmed case of Exotic Newcastle Disease in a backyard flock of chickens near El Paso, Texas. It follows a warning in February against bringing in birds from California and Nevada, the two other states known to have the disease.

State and federal officials destroyed the Texas flock and quarantined five counties in Texas and New Mexico.

The quarantine has been imposed so disease surveillance, testing and diagnosis can be conducted.

Exotic Newcastle Disease is a contagious and fatal viral disease affecting all species of birds, but it is not a threat to humans, said Taylor Woods, the state veterinarian.

"Exotic Newcastle is definitely on the move in the United States," Woods said. "It is critical that poultry producers and bird dealers take every precaution to prevent the spread of this highly contagious disease into Missouri."

The disease can spread by many means, including air, eggs and travel. Clinical signs can vary but include respiratory ailments such as coughing and sneezing, nervous signs such as walking in circles and paralysis, high mortality and decreased egg production.

Wild birds are more resistant to the disease, but remain at risk, Woods said.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture has increased its surveillance for the disease and can test birds at its diagnostic laboratory in Springfield, as well as at the University of Missouri-Columbia's veterinary medical laboratory.


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