In an effort to prevent the deadly avian exotic Newcastle disease from spreading into the state, the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food has issued a ban on the importation of all poultry and birds originating in or passing through southern Nevada and southern California.
The disease, which does not affect humans, was recently diagnosed in backyard poultry in the Las Vegas area.
A federal quarantine currently exists for Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, San Diego, Imperial, Orange, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in California and Clark Coontie in Nevada.
The ban prohibits the acceptance of shipments of eggs, chicks, pullets, adult poultry, game or caged birds from the quarantine areas, the southern California and southern Nevada areas at all locations across Utah, including the Castle Valley region.
The importation ban applies to all live poultry, game, hatching eggs and birds customarily used for household pets.
The ban also applies to birds that have transited through the designated areas.
"The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food is extremely concerned with the possibility of disease transmission by undeclared transportation of birds, eggs or equipment from the quarantine areas to Utah," indicated Dr. Michael Marshall, state veterinarian.
The UDAF appeals to the Utah poultry industry at all levels, including small operations across the state, and encourages the general public to implement the following precautions:
Do not accept, purchase, or transport birds, eggs or equipment from non-approved or unknown sources.
A certificate of veterinary inspection and a prior entry permit are required for interstate movement of all poultry to Utah.
All vehicles transporting poultry and livestock across state lines are required to stop at a port of entry.
Do not visit poultry premises in the quarantine area.
Implement bio-security measures for related business premises, including visitor restrictions, disinfection procedures and screening of employees who may have contact with outside poultry and/or game birds.
Avoid events where commingling of birds will take place like swap meets, exhibitions, fairs and unlawful cock fights.
Do not bring birds home from the events.
The disease is not considered a threat to human health, although persons who handle infected birds may experience conjunctivitis.
Meat and eggs in the marketplace do not pose a risk to humans, pointed out the agriculture department.
The causative agent for the disease is a virus and can persist in the feces for long periods of time. Some species like parrots and wild birds may be carriers.
Symptoms exhibited by infected birds include greenish watery diarrhea, respiratory symptoms, conjunctivitis and loss of egg production. Infected birds may also exhibit nervous system symptoms like drooping wings, dragging legs, twisted necks, circling, depression and paralysis.
Death loss can be as high as 90 percent in affected flocks. People experiencing abnormal death loss or sudden declines in egg production should notify the state veterinarian at 801-538-7161.
The disease can cause costly losses in commercial poultry, backyard and hobby flocks, pet bird aviaries, etc. There is no effective cure. The only way to eradicate the disease is by quarantine, surveillance and depopulation.
The outbreak could prove difficult to contain and eradication will be a problem, continued the officials.
Many states and countries are currently refusing to accept poultry and products from California and, in some instances, from the U.S.
Failure to prevent the entry of the disease into Utah could devastate the poultry industries in the state.
Individuals violating Utah's import requirements could face severe penalties, including citations and fines up to $5,000.
Poultry and bird keepers are encouraged to report any symptoms consistent with exotic Newcastle disease to the UDAF's division of animal industry at 801-538-7160, concluded the state officials.