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The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has expanded the quarantine of chickens to cover the six counties that make up Southern California, as Gov. Gray Davis declared a state of emergency there in an effort to deal with the spread of Newcastle disease, one of the most infectious poultry diseases that threatens the state’s $3 billion poultry industry.

Some 1.2 million chickens in Southern California already have been slaughtered to make sure that it is contained there. The quarantine bars transporting poultry, poultry products and nesting materials.

Newcastle disease is harmless to humans, but fatal to birds. Eggs are not included in the quarantine but must be sanitized; there are more than nine million egg-laying hens within the quarantine zone.
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