REDWOOD CITY (KPIX) — A deadly viral disease known to kill chickens by the flock is now in Northern California. A rooster tested positive for Newcastle disease at a veterinary clinic in Redwood City on Thursday.

Newcastle disease has been devastating to poultry farmers in Southern California but this is the first time a case has been confirmed in the northern part of the state.

Last year, an outbreak killed tens of thousands of chickens in Southern California. In 2002, an 11-month-long outbreak killed 3.1 million birds and cost $161 million.

“The worry is it would get into the California poultry industry; California has a very large poultry industry,” veterinarian Tina Peak said.

Dr. Peak is one of the few veterinarians still seeing chickens in Redwood City after the confirmed case but she’s only treating them in the parking lot as a precaution.

“It spreads rapidly and it’s very, very deadly,” Peak said.

Many of her clients are backyard farmers, since owning your own chickens has become increasingly trendy. Peak warns them not to move their chickens and to clean up after handling them.

Hilary Yoffe-Sharp owns about a dozen chickens — all of them rescues from the humane society. She just learned what Newcastle disease is and says she’s very concerned.

“We’ll definitely be monitoring the situation to make sure our birds stay healthy and safe,” Yoffe-Sharp said.

The San Mateo County Fair canceled its upcoming poultry show out of an abundance of caution. Usually 250 people show chickens at the June event and it’s popular with 4-H kids.

If you have a sick bird, you can call the California Department of Food and Agriculture hotline at (866) 922-2473.

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