An Alameda County rooster tested positive for a highly contagious disease at a veterinary clinic in Redwood City Thursday, March 14.
The bird was found to have the deadly Virulent Newcastle disease, which can't infect humans but can spread rapidly among birds and poultry, quickly wiping out entire flocks, San Mateo County officials said in a news release Friday, March 15.
Virulent Newcastle broke out in Southern California last year, and tens of thousands of birds reportedly died or were euthanized.
Thursday's positive test appears to be the first reported case of the disease in Northern California, causing concern that the disease may have spread north. But no other cases have been reported so far, and agriculture officials do not currently believe the disease is present in the county.
Officials said the infected rooster came from a flock in the East Bay. It's unclear why the owner brought the rooster to a Redwood City clinic, but officials are now investigating in Alameda County.
The infected rooster was euthanized and an alert was sent out to poultry and egg producers. Officials are also warning the owners of small flocks to take precautions and keep an eye on their birds.
"Do not transport any poultry, unless you have confirmed it is not an area under quarantine," county officials said.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, signs and symptoms of the disease include sneezing, gasping for air, nasal discharge, coughing, diarrhea, decreased activity, tremors, drooping wings or stiffness.
Flock owners should take precautions by washing their hands and boots before or after interacting with their chickens, according to the USDA.
If they notice any issues, they can contact the sick bird hotline at 866-922-2473.