Update from the State Veterinarian about Virulent Newcastle Disease (vND):
This is a contagious and fatal viral disease affecting birds and poultry. No cases have been found in birds or chickens in Contra Costa County though a recent case in Alameda County and many confirmed cases in southern California mean bird owners should be on alert. vND is not a food safety concern. In rare instances, people in close contact with infected birds may get a mild fever or redness around the eyes, symptoms that usually go away without medical treatment. If you think you have a sick bird, call the Sick Bird Hotline at 866-922-2473.
Below are helpful links that provide more specific information about the biology of the pathogen, how it is spread, and how to protect commercial and backyard poultry:
US Department of Agriculture