ORAS President will discuss avian diseases in January Meeting


Catie Welch is the president of the Oconee Rivers Audubon Society and Research Technician at UGA’s Warnell School of Forestry and the USDA’s Exotic and Emerging Avian Viral Disease Research Unit. She will discuss viruses, such as the Newcastle disease virus, and birds at the Oconee Rivers Audubon Society'snext monthly meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, January 3rd, at Sandy Creek Nature Center.

Newcastle disease is a worldwide concern for poultry health, however the cause of the disease, Newcastle disease virus (NDV), affects a wide variety of bird species beyond poultry. The virus is highly variable, and, in many countries, it occurs naturally and can quickly mutate and evolve. NDV transmission at the agriculture-wildlife interface likely occurs between wild birds and backyard poultry at food and water stations. The effects of viruses transmitted to wild birds from domestic poultry are of major concern but not well documented. In 2016, a collaborative research project began with hopes of understanding NDV in Kenya. Together with the US Department of Agriculture, Kenya’s Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization, Kenya’s Department of Veterinary Services, Kenya Wildlife Service, and the National Museum of Kenya, biological samples were collected from poultry and wild birds at backyard poultry farms and chickens at live bird markets. Samples are currently being analyzed, but we have some interesting preliminary results. 

The meeting will be held in the Nature Center’s Education and Visitor Center, 205 Old Commerce Road off U.S. Highway 441 north of Athens. To reach the center from the Loop 10 bypass, exit at U.S. Highway 441/Commerce Road and turn north toward Commerce. Go approximately a mile, turn left at the Sandy Creek Nature Center sign and go to the end of the road. Turn left at Old Commerce Road; parking for the Education and Visitor Center will be on the right.