County of Santa Clara
Environmental Resources Agency
Department of Agriculture and Resource Management
Division of Agriculture
San Jose Office (408) 918-4600 San Jose Office South County Office
South County Office (408) 465-2900 1553 Berger Drive 605 Tennant Avenue
Building 1 Suite G
http://www.santaclaracounty.org/agweights San Jose, CA 95112 Morgan Hill, CA 95037
Fax (408) 286-2460 Fax (408) 779-2255
Date: February 4, 2003
To: All Interested Persons
From: Greg Van Wassenhove, Agricultural Commissioner / Sealer
Subject: Agricultural Commissioner’s Report
1) Exotic Newcastle Disease Outbreak: The California Department of Food and
Agriculture (CDFA) and the United State Department of Agriculture continue to investigate an
outbreak of Exotic Newcastle Disease (END). END is a contagious and fatal viral disease
affecting all species of birds. It is one of the most infectious diseases of poultry in the world.
Exotic Newcastle Disease does not pose any threat to public health.
END positive premises have now been confirmed in the counties of Los Angeles, Riverside, San
Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura. In late January, END was found in a backyard poultry
flock in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Governor Gray Davis and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman have declared a state of
emergency for the affected area. Federal and state quarantines have expanded to include all of
Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara and
Ventura counties. Nevada imposed quarantine restrictions in Clark County and Nye County.
CDFA and USDA are requesting Santa Clara, San Benito and eighteen other California counties
to conduct surveillance activities for END. Surveillance activities will identify neighborhoods
and households with backyard fowl, monitor swap meets and other markets selling live birds,
and disseminate information to feed stores, public agencies, and private veterinarians.
Surveillance activities in Santa Clara County will be a cooperative effort between the USDA,
CDFA and the Santa Clara County Agricultural Commissioner. The program is expected to
begin in February 2003.
Birds may catch Exotic Newcastle Disease through contact with other infected birds or
contaminated materials. Movement of birds or materials can easily spread the disease.
Symptoms include sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge, diarrhea, listlessness and sudden death.
Mortality is up to 90% of exposed birds. More than 1.5 million birds have died or been
destroyed as a result of the current END outbreak.
Board of Supervisors: Donald F. Gage, Blanca Alvarado, Pete McHugh, James T. Beall, Jr., Liz Kniss
County Executive: Richard Wittenberg
2) Bovine Tuberculosis Update: Bovine tuberculosis was confirmed in a Tulare County
dairy herd in May 2002. The herd was quarantined by CDFA, tested for tuberculosis (TB) three
times, and all test positive cattle were destroyed. All cattle sold from or associated with the herd
over the last five years have been traced and tested. In November, the herd was sent to slaughter
and the premises thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
A TB-positive cow was found at a California slaughterhouse in September 2002. The
investigation into the source of this cow is on-going, but indicates a dispersed beef herd from
In October 2002, a complete herd test at a dairy in Tulare County identified a single reactor
animal. As a precaution, the dairy was quarantined. In December 2002, the USDA classified
this second quarantined dairy herd as an infected herd.
State and federal officials have tested more the 152,000 cattle in California for exposure to
bovine TB since May 2002, and nearly 8,000 cattle have been slaughtered during this
The USDA announced in December that it will downgrade California's status from "TB-Free" to
"Modified Accredited Advanced" because a second herd was identified within 48 months of the
first herd. When implemented, the new status will require all California breeding cattle to have
official identification and a negative TB test within 60 days of interstate movement or originate
from a TB Accredited-Free herd or move directly to slaughter.
California is reviewing its TB control and surveillance program and is considering a number of
options, including testing all dairy herds in Tulare, Kings and Fresno counties, requiring a TB
test before importing dairy cattle into California, and restricting Mexican cattle to approved
Tuberculosis is a serious bacterial disease that often affects the respiratory system. Animals
infected with TB may not show signs for years, and animals that appear healthy may be capable
of transmitting infection to other animals. Three main types of TB occur -- human, avian, and
bovine. Human TB is rarely transmitted to non-humans. Avian TB is typically restricted to
birds, although pigs and occasionally other animals have been affected. Bovine TB or cattle TB
is capable of infecting most mammals.
An eradication program for bovine TB began in the early 1900's, including skin testing of
livestock on farms or transported across state lines and monitoring of animals sent to slaughter.
As a result, bovine TB has nearly been eradicated from cattle in the United States. However,
cattle in Michigan and Texas have recently been diagnosed with bovine TB, and the disease is
commonly found in Mexico.
The risk of people contracting bovine TB from animals in the United States is extremely remote.
All carcasses are carefully inspected and, if infected, are rejected from the human food chain.
The bacterium causing TB is killed when meat is cooked and milk is pasteurized, hence these
products are safe to eat. People who drink raw milk from infected cattle, and workers who are in
close contact with infected animals are at most risk.
3) New Requirements for Agricultural Fires: The Bay Area Air Quality Management
District (BAAQMD) recently amended regulations pertaining to open burning and agricultural
fires. The changes include the following new requirements:
• Burning will not be allowed before 10:00 a.m.
• Burn piles must be managed to ensure that smoke is not produced after sunset.
• Individuals burning orchard prunings must be able to prove through documentation that
they are operating an agricultural business.
• Any person who conducts open burning must now notify the BAAQMD in writing at
least 5 days before the intended burn date. The Notification Form can be submitted by
mail or by FAX.
Notification forms can be downloaded from BAAQMD's internet website at
www.baaqmd.gov/enf/forms/formlist.htm. For more information on the regulation changes,
contact the BAAQMD at (415) 749-4999.