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Officials Suspect Exotic Newcastle Disease Killed Chickens in Brazil

I’m Gwen Outen with the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

Exotic Newcastle disease is a viral infection that spreads easily among birds. The disease causes breathing problems in birds and often leads to death. Other effects could include loss of muscle control, digestive problems or a drop in egg production. The disease is not known to harm people.

Experts say the only way to fight exotic Newcastle disease is to destroy infected birds. Infected birds must also be kept away from any other birds. Quarantine measures are needed around affected areas in an effort to contain the spread of the virus.

In two thousand three, parts of California, New Mexico and Texas faced quarantines for exotic Newcastle disease. Currently no such quarantines are in place in the United States.

In late May, in Brazil, about five thousand chickens died from a disease on a farm in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. The Associated Press reported that officials in Brazil did not make the news public for several days. The news agency said Brazilian health officials ordered the destruction of seventeen thousand chickens. They also ordered roadblocks around the farm, which is near the town of Jaraguari.

Officials were concerned about the possibility of bird influenza. The h-five-n-one form of bird flu has killed more than fifty people in Asia, including thirty-eight in Vietnam. East Asian countries have had to destroy large numbers of chickens and other farm birds.

On June first, however, a Brazilian official told the Associated Press that the virus is not bird flu. He said testing continued but officials suspect that it may be exotic Newcastle disease.

That disease can come from tropical birds like Amazon parrots. Infected Amazon parrots can carry the virus for up to four hundred days without showing signs of sickness.

The possibility of the spread of disease means it is important to keep farm birds separated from wild birds and pet birds. But, at the same time, officials also say that wild birds should not be destroyed in an effort to protect farm birds.

On May twenty-first, China informed the World Organization for Animal Health about the deaths of five hundred wild birds in Qinghai Province. Chinese officials said the h-five-n-one virus was responsible.

This VOA Special English Agriculture Report was written by Mario Ritter. Our reports are on the Web at I'm Gwen Outen.