California Chickens at Increased Risk for Severe Bird Flu Strain

UC Davis experts are urging backyard chicken enthusiasts and commercial poultry owners to practice strong biosecurity measures to prevent contact with wild birds, due to highly pathogenic strains of avian influenza or “bird flu” recently detected in migratory waterfowl in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and Butte County, California.

The current detected strains, H5N2 and H5N8, are not a risk to human health and have not been found in commercial poultry in the United States. However, commercial poultry flocks in British Columbia and backyard flocks in Washington and Oregon have been affected.OneCalifornia

Avian influenza — commonly called “bird flu” — is a disease found in a wide variety of domesticated and wild birds. Once introduced into an area, infection can spread through bird-to-bird contact or through contact with contaminated clothing, shoes, hands, feed, water or equipment. Because waterfowl are reservoirs for avian influenza strains that can be fatal to domestic poultry (yet often show little to no signs in waterfowl), backyard and commercial chickens raised near areas commonly used by migrating waterfowl are at risk of transmission.

“Due to normal waterfowl migration along the Pacific Flyway, during the winter there are approximately eight times the number of waterfowl in California than what we will see three months from now,” said Maurice Pitesky, a poultry specialist with the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. “There are lots of birds that winter and establish roosting and feeding habitat in California wetlands and agricultural crops. If you are a poultry owner — either backyard or commercial — and live in proximity to waterfowl and their habitat, your birds are at risk.”

Owners of backyard chickens who observe illness or increased mortality in their birds should call their veterinarian or the California Department of Food Agriculture sick bird hotline at (866) 922-2473.

The California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System includes four diagnostic labs in Davis, Turlock, Tulare and San Bernardino. The labs encourage veterinarians and owners of backyard chickens to submit sick or recently dead birds for necropsy (postmortem) examination. The exam is free of charge for California backyard flock owners of fewer than 1,000 birds (chicken, turkey, waterfowl and squabs). For more information, contact (530) 752-8700 or visit the CAFHS website.

Reduce the risk of bird flu

To reduce the risk of avian influenza transmission, chickens should be kept separate from wild birds and monitored for signs of illness or increased mortality. The CDFA also urges owners to take the following necessary and crucial precautions:

  • If you have a pond or body of water that can attract waterfowl to or near your facility, consider draining if feasible.
  • Provide housing to confine domestic poultry and/or enclose an exercise area with netting.
  • Avoid use of water that comes from sources where waterfowl may congregate during migration.
  • Ideally, owners of poultry should try to avoid waterfowl hunting during migration. Otherwise, ensure clothing, footwear, vehicles, etc. used during hunts are laundered and/or disinfected.
  • Permit only essential workers and vehicles on premises and provide disposable coveralls, boots and head coverings for visitors.
  • Clean and disinfect vehicles and equipment entering or leaving the premises.
  • Control movement associated with the disposal of mortality, litter and manure.

Additional resources

Information on good biosecurity and hygiene precautions to keep backyard flocks healthy can be found at:

Reports of dead, wild birds can be directed to the Wildlife Investigations Lab at (916) 358-2790. There is also a Web application for submission.

CAHFS at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine

The California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System is the backbone of California’s warning system helping to protect the health of the state’s livestock and poultry. Operated through the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, CAHFS provides appropriate and timely diagnostic support to safeguard the health of California’s dairy, livestock and poultry industries and to protect the public health from animal disease.

 

(Photo credit: UC Davis)

Asian Citrus Psyllid Quarantine Covers Tulare County Completely

UPDATE: The Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) Quarantine covers Tulare County, in its entirety, following the detection of two psyllids in the City of Tulare. The first ACP was detected in a trap in a residential neighborhood on September 10, in the City of Tulare.  The second detection was on September 17, also in a residential setting within the City of Tulare.  These detections, when added to previous detections elsewhere in the county, dictate that a county-wide quarantine is the most effective response to contain the pest.  A map is available online at: www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/go/acp-quarantine 

The quarantine prohibits the movement of host nursery stock out of the quarantine area and requires that all citrus fruit be either cleaned of leaves and stems or treated in a manner to eliminate ACP prior to moving out of the quarantine area.  Residents with backyard citrus trees in the quarantine area are asked to not remove fruit from the quarantine area.

In addition to quarantines in portions of Fresno, Kern, and San Luis Obispo counties, ACP entire-county quarantines remain in place in Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties.

The ACP is an invasive species of grave concern because it can carry the disease huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening.  All citrus and closely related species are susceptible hosts for both the insect and the disease.  There is no cure once a tree becomes infected.  The diseased tree will decline in health until it dies.

HLB has been detected just once in California – in 2012 on a single residential property in Hacienda Heights, Los Angeles County.  HLB is known to be present in Mexico and in parts of the southern U.S.  Florida first detected the psyllid in 1998 and the disease in 2005, and the two have been detected in all 30 citrus-producing counties in that state.  The University of Florida estimates the disease has tallied more than 6,600 lost jobs, $1.3 billion in lost revenue to growers and $3.6 billion in lost economic activity.  The disease is present in Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Texas.  The states of Alabama, Arizona, Hawaii, and Mississippi have detected the pest but not the disease.

Residents in the area who think they may have seen the Asian citrus psyllid are urged to call CDFA’s Pest Hotline at 1-800-491-1899.  For more information on the Asian citrus psyllid and huanglongbing disease, please visit: www.cdfa.ca.gov/go/acp

Featured Photos, Source: M.E. Rogers, M. Luque-Williams, on CDFA website, “ASIAN CITRUS PSYLLID PEST PROFILE

 

Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Committee Vacancy

The California Department of Food and Agriculture is announcing one vacancy on the Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Committee. The Committee advises the CDFA secretary on activities associated with the statewide citrus specific pest and disease work plan that includes, but is not limited to outreach and education programs and programs for surveying, detecting, analyzing, and treating pests and diseases specific to citrus.

The members receive no compensation, but are entitled to payment of necessary travel expenses in accordance with the rules of the Department of Personnel Administration.

A committee member vacancy exists for a grower representative from Tulare County and will expire on September 30, 2017. Applicants should have an interest in agriculture and citrus pest and disease prevention. Individuals interested in being considered for a committee appointment should send a brief resume by November 1, 2014 to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, Plant Health and Pest Prevention Services, 1220 N Street, Room 221, Sacramento, California 95814, Attention: Victoria Hornbaker.

For additional information, contact: Victoria Hornbaker, Program Manager at (916) 654-0317, or e-mail (Victoria.hornbaker@cdfa.ca.gov).

Ag Alert update: Milk-pricing bill withdrawn

Source: Ag Alert

California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross announced Wednesday that milk-pricing legislation will not be pursued during this legislative session.

In a statement, she acknowledged that timing on Assembly Bill 2730 “was not ideal,” but that she was “compelled to see if we could get something done this year.”

“Since the August 13th Task Force meeting, a tremendous amount of progress has been made, but not enough,” she said.

Ross did not say whether the department will pursue reform legislation again next year or discuss the future role of the Dairy Task Force.

Watch for further coverage in the Sept. 3 issue of Ag Alert.