There was widespread concern among pet owners in Southern California with the outbreak of exotic Newcastle disease (END). One owner had to euthanize 500 birds, including pigeons, ducks, cockatiels, and canaries, after her chickens tested positive for END. However, this is the exception rather than the rule. Most avian practitioners agree that there is little concern for the average owner of pet birds-the disease is more common in poultry flocks. Caged birds that never leave a home are unlikely to be infected. Another major concern for the owners is what happens if a neighbor's birds become infected. Bird owners should be aware of their rights. The California Department of Food and Agriculture has posted a file on its Web site that explains its policy on this matter for the state of California (www.cdfa.ca.gov).

COMMENTARY: Exotic Newcastle Disease was confirmed on October 1, 2002 in the state of California. The disease spread to several states including Nevada and Arizona. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) took action and it now appears that the outbreak is in its final phase of eradication. Veterinarians still need to be aware of how outbreaks such as this impact their clients and help them understand regulations and guidelines from the government.

Avian specialists reassure bird owners fearful of Newcastle Disease. Warner K. PULSE 24:10-11, 2003.