The Department of Agriculture has launched a national awareness campaign to educate people who raise their own poultry or who own exotic birds about the signs of avian influenza and exotic Newcastle disease. The Biosecurity for the Birds campaign also educates noncommercial bird owners about good biosecurity practices and encourages them to report sick birds.
The USDA has distributed brochures and fact sheets to thousands of veterinarians to educate their clients. These materials are also available at www.aphis.usda.gov/vs/birdbiosecurity/, by e-mailing birdbiosecurityaphis [dot] usda [dot] gov, or by faxing a request to (301) 734-5205. The USDA is also working with the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service and state departments of agriculture to distribute educational materials, particularly at state fairs. A media campaign will also help raise awareness.
Bird and poultry owners are being encouraged to report sick birds to a veterinarian or extension agent, particularly in states where there is a large presence of backyard poultry. For information on how to submit samples from potentially infected birds, veterinarians can contact their state veterinarian or a federal area veterinarian involved in the program. For federal and state contacts, call (866) 536-7593. Because testing is crucial to this surveillance program, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will subsidize testing costs.
The new campaign is a reaction to the outbreak of END in California and other western states in 2002 and 2003. The disease cost the states and federal government more than $180 million to eradicate it in California and other western states.