- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 4, 2003

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) Canada and Mexico have banned shipments of poultry and poultry products from California because of the outbreak of exotic Newcastle disease, the California Farm Bureau said.
The disease, which threatens the state's $3 billion poultry industry, is harmless to humans but fatal to birds.
State farm officials said Canada will stop all shipments of poultry and its products from California for 14 days. Mexico, the state's leading export market for poultry, called for a similar ban.
The California Poultry Federation, which represents about 160 poultry farmers, was lobbying for the bans to be modified to include only six quarantined counties in Southern California.
Agriculture officials ordered more than a million chickens destroyed after finding new cases of the disease. The outbreak was discovered in September in backyard chicken flocks in Los Angeles County.
Meanwhile, Ventura County will join Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange counties with quarantine restrictions after the discovery of an exotic Newcastle infection there, state officials said.
The latest case, confirmed Wednesday, involved a pet bird, not a commercial flock, said Larry Cooper, spokesman for the state Department of Food and Agriculture.
The quarantine bans the transportation of live birds or poultry products, except eggs that have been sanitized, outside the quarantine area.
A statewide outbreak of the disease in the 1970s threatened the entire U.S. poultry and egg supply and led authorities to destroy nearly 12 million chickens. It cost $56 million to eradicate the disease.
California is the nation's third-largest egg producer. More than half the state's 12 million egg-laying hens are in the quarantine zone.
Officials emphasize that chicken and eggs remain safe to eat, and the virus does not harm humans.

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