Exotic Newcastle disease

LIVERMORE-- Newly developed rapid diagnostic assays to detect exotic Newcastle disease developed by a partnership of researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and other institutions have "significantly aided" containment of the poultry disease.

That's the view of professor Alex Ardans, director of the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory based at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Design and development of the assays have been done by a team from the Laboratory, the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory (or CAHFS) at UC Davis and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

At the time of the outbreak of exotic Newcastle disease last October in California, available assays to identify the disease required 6 to 12 days, according to Ardans.

A key signature that allows identification of the virus within four hours of receiving the sample was facilitated by a genomic-approach developed by an eight-member LLNL team, led by Paula McCready.

"The ongoing collaboration between LLNL and UC Davis doesn't only benefit the state of California, but also the nation," Ardans said. "The Livermore approach to developing assays for microbial diseases is being embraced nationwide."

The rapid tests are being used to assist state and federal exotic Newcastle disease task force personnel in disease detection and control efforts.

During the past five months, almost 3 million commercial egg-producing chickens have been euthanized in California because of exotic Newcastle disease. Additionally, more than 100,000 game birds and backyard poultry also have been euthanized.

Currently, seven counties, all in Southern California, are under quarantine, with a prohibition on moving poultry such as chickens, turkeys, geese, partridges and other birds.

Ardans believes federal and state agriculture officials are making headway in the fight against exotic Newcastle disease. During the past two wee

Contact: Stephen Wampler
University of California - Berkeley

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