A quarantine has been placed on the barnyard at William S. Hart Park in Newhall and birds at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center, due to the threat of Virulent Newcastle Disease.
The California Regional Quarantine was issued on February 27 for all public bird exhibitions in all of Los Angeles County and sections of Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.
“Our Barnyard is quarantined and not available to the public until the quarantine is lifted,” officials with Friends of Hart Park announced on its social media. “Please know our animal residents are fine and this quarantine is helping to keep them safe. We appreciate your patience and understanding during this time.”
Virulent Newcastle Disease (VND), formerly known as Exotic Newcastle Disease, is a serious, highly contagious and deadly viral disease that can affect poultry and other birds. In rare cases, humans that have exposure to infected birds may get eye inflammation or mild fever-like symptoms.
While the Nature Center is mostly operating business as usual, officials want patrons to know that birds will not be put out for public demonstrations and the Nature Center’s practice of taking in sick birds to rehabilitate is being halted until the quarantine is lifted.
“The quarantine just a safeguard,” said Russ Kimura, superintendent of the Nature Center. “It’s just precautionary. The disease is spread by people. We normally show our birds to the public. We’re just keeping them away at this time.”
Kimura said the disease spreads through human contact – through clothing and shoes.
Initially, there were two areas in Los Angeles County that were found to have an outbreak, which prompted county officials to place a quarantine for all of LA County. The first was Compton, which has a chicken farm. The second was Whittier, which was home to an underground illegal cockfighting operation. While the Compton outbreak happened in a controlled environment, the Whittier outbreak involves a cockfighting group who moved birds around – some as far as Tijuana, where is there now a significant outbreak, Kimura said.
“The last time this happened, the quarantine lasted 11 months,” Kimura said. “But that was with the chicken industry working with the state government. But because of the cockfighting group, this could go on for a prolonged period of time. We learned from the local outbreak a long time ago just how terrible this disease is. There is no cure for it and it spreads very easily.”
For more information regarding the Barnyard, call Hart Park staff at (661) 259-1750. For more information on the birds at Placerita Canyon Nature Center call (661) 259-7721.