News and Alerts


Virulent Newcastle Disease—January 8, 2019

From ZAHP (Zoos and Aquariums All Hazard Preparedness, Response and Recovery) Fusion Center

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the detection of Virulent Newcastle Disease (VND) in a commercial layer flock in Riverside County, California.  This is a continuation of the outbreak that started in southern California in May of 2018. View the full announcement from USDA here

About VND

Virulent Newcastle Disease is not a food safety concern so properly cooked poultry products are safe to eat. In very rare instances, people working directly with sick birds can become infected. Symptoms are usually very mild, and limited to conjunctivitis and/or influenza-like symptoms. Infection is easily prevented by using standard personal protective equipment.

According to Dr. Jonathan Sleeman of the National Wildlife Health Center, the strain currently circulating in southern California is distinct from strains identified earlier in cormorants in the Great Lakes, and the strain affecting rock doves in Texas (for additional information click here.) 

To our knowledge, this California strain has not been detected in birds other than poultry, but it is unknown how timely the sharing of surveillance information will be with the current government shutdown. This virus is highly adapted to gallinaceous birds. It is not known if gallinaceous birds other than chickens are equally affected. This could impact gallinaceous birds in breeding and exhibition settings. 

What this means for our community

Exhibitors, bird breeders and owners should carefully examine their biosecurity protocols, and heightened biosecurity measures may be appropriate. Guidance on biosecurity for VND can be found on the California Department of Agriculture’s website. Additional information on biosecurity for all poultry flocks can be found on USDA’s Defend the Flock Resource Center

Since the spread of this virus from one facility to another is still under investigation, you must consider multiple possible routes of infection. It is very important to ensure that any of your staff or volunteers monitor the health of their own birds, and report sick or dead birds promptly: 

State Bird Hotline 1-866-922-2473

USDA toll free number 1-866-536-7593

Additional background provided by USDA email

Virulent Newcastle Disease is a contagious and fatal viral disease affecting the respiratory, nervous and digestive systems of birds and poultry. The disease is so virulent that many birds and poultry die without showing any clinical signs. A death rate of almost 100 percent can occur in unvaccinated poultry flocks. Virulent Newcastle Disease can infect and cause death even in vaccinated poultry.

Clinical signs of Virulent Newcastle Disease include: sudden death and increased death loss in the flock; sneezing; gasping for air; nasal discharge; coughing; greenish, watery diarrhea; decreased activity; tremors; drooping wings; twisting of the head and neck; circling; complete stiffness; and swelling around the eyes and neck.

WDFW Wildlife Rehabilitation Rules Revision—December 5, 2018

Wildlife in Captivity and Wildlife Rehabilitation 
The department is considering rule changes for wildlife rehabilitation.

CR-102 – filed as WSR 18-24-091 on December 3, 2018
Invitation to discuss rules on this subject

Winter 2018/2019 Bat Submission Guidelines & Updates from the 2017/2018 White-Nose Syndrome Surveillance Season—November 29, 2018 

From Dr. Jonathan Sleeman, Center Director, USGS National Wildlife Health Center

Updated guidance from the USGS National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) is now available for bat submissions for the 2018/2019 white-nose syndrome (WNS) surveillance season. These guidelines are posted on the updated NWHC WNS web page and replace all previous NWHC bat submission criteria. Included are reference charts and an updated WNS Management Area map to assist submitters in identifying priority species and collecting appropriate samples for submission to a diagnostic laboratory. These guidelines support surveillance objectives of the WNS National Plan designed to identify new geographic locations and bat species impacted by Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd) and WNS. 

National Wildlife Health Center Wildlife Health Bulletin 2018-06 

WDFW FY 2019-2021 Applications are now open—November 27, 2018

From Patricia Thompson, WDFW Rehabilitation Program Manager

FY 2019-2021 Application Guidelines and Grant Application, and a current per diem map to calculate travel expenses are available on the WDFW website at

The deadline for grant application submittal is February 1, 2019.

The total amount of grant funding is estimated at $150,000.00 for the biennium but depends on the availability of Personalized License Plate funds and upon the Legislature and Governor’s Office budget actions for the 2019-2021 biennial budget.  

Project SNOWstorm—October 27, 2018

From Erica Miller, DVM

For the past 5 winters, a group of scientists has been collecting information on Snowy Owls as they migrate into the lower 48 states. Project SNOWstorm ( welcomes contributions from rehabilitators who may be receiving snowy owls this winter. We are specifically seeking blood samples and measurements from live birds, and intact cadavers from birds that are found dead, die in care, or are euthanized. Please see the attached documents (Project SNOWstorm Sampling Protocol & Labeling and Packing Carcasses) for further information on the samples needed and instructions for submitting them to Project SNOWstorm. 

Dead and Dying Crows—August 23, 2018

From Patricia Thompson, WDFW Rehabilitation Program Manager

The WDFW has received an increased number of reports of deceased crows this summer from the west side of the state.  Three of these crows were sent to the USGS National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC), and two to the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (WADDL), where necropsy findings were consistent with crow reovirus. These findings were confirmed via PCR this week (see attached report). This is apparently a highly infectious disease. Note that all of the crows tested to date have been negative for West Nile Virus.

WDFW Recommendation

Euthanize all sick crows that enter your facility

NWHC Request for Carcasses 

The NWHC would like more fresh carcasses from over a larger area of western Washington to test for this virus. If possible, please collect and freeze freshly deceased/euthanized crows for future pick up by WDFW staff. Please inform Dr. Kristin Mansfield ( of any fresh carcasses that you are able to freeze. Note that we have already confirmed this disease in Auburn and in Bothell, so don’t need any additional carcasses from these areas. Carcasses from outside of King and Snohomish counties are being sought at this time. This would be valuable to the WDFW and to NWHC to help us better understand the geographical extent of this disease.