Note to Editors: The following press release includes information for the public about dropping off deceased birds that should be tested for Exotic Newcastle Disease. The above "media contact" information is for reporters only; it is not appropriate contact information for the public. Any member of the public who has questions or who has a bird to be tested should contact their local Cooperative Extension office for local information about drop-off procedures, or the Colorado Department of Agriculture at 303-239-4161. Cooperative Extension office phone numbers and addresses are listed in the local phone book under the county government section.
Several Colorado State University Cooperative Extension offices will be drop-off sites for birds that should be tested for exotic Newcastle disease as part of the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s surveillance for the disease. Exotic Newcastle disease is a contagious and fatal viral disease that affects all bird species; however, it does not affect humans.
The disease has been detected in neighboring states, but has not yet been found in Colorado. The Colorado Department of Agriculture is testing birds that die that exhibit symptoms of the disease in an effort to prevent the disease from spreading into Colorado.
Colorado State Cooperative Extension offices exist in most Colorado counties. Twenty-four of those offices will have sanitary supplies available to collect samples that will be transported to U.S. Department of Agriculture and Colorado Department of Agriculture labs for testing. All of the offices have information about the disease.
"Colorado State Cooperative Extension is partnering with the Colorado Department of Agriculture to test for this devastating disease in an effort to thwart the spread of the disease," said Milan Rewerts, director.
Exotic Newcastle disease, one of the most infectious diseases among poultry in the world, kills many birds before they exhibit signs of the disease; nearly 100 percent of unvaccinated poultry flocks die if they contract the disease, and vaccinations can not prevent death.
The disease affects caged birds such as parrots, as well as domestic fowl including chickens, ducks and geese. It also affects wildlife including pheasants and songbirds. The disease is easily spread through contact between healthy birds and infected birds, and by people who have had contact with infected birds.
The Colorado Department of Agriculture is encouraging people to submit deceased birds for testing if they exhibited signs of the disease. The disease affects the respiratory, nervous and digestive systems. Respiratory symptoms include sneezing, gasping for air, coughing and nasal discharge. Birds might also exhibit greenish and watery diarrhea as well as muscular tremors, drooping wings, twisting of the head and neck and complete paralysis.
Other general symptoms are a drop in egg production, thin-shelled eggs, a swelling of the tissues around the eyes and neck and sudden death.
Anyone who has a bird that meets these symptoms should contact their local Colorado State Cooperative Extension office about the drop-off point for their area. Most County Cooperative Extension offices have been supplied with disinfectants and materials to store samples, as well as information about the disease, but some will not be equipped to take samples.
Phone numbers for county Colorado State Cooperative Extension offices are listed in the county government section of the local phone book. Residents may also contact the Colorado Department of Agriculture at 303-239-4161 or visit www.ag.state.co.us for more information about testing drop-off sites and the disease.
Colorado State University Cooperative Extension offices on the college campus in Fort Collins will not be a drop-off site for samples.
The following Colorado State Cooperative Extension county offices are collecting samples to be tested for Exotic Newcastle disease:
- La Plata
- Las Animas
- El Paso