WHAT IS NEWCASTLE DISEASE?
Newcastle disease is a contagious viral disease affecting domestic and wild birds. It was identified in Newcastle-uponTyne in 1927, hence the name. Humans aren’t normally affected, but people in direct contact with infected birds may develop a slight eye infection, which passes without treatment. The disease was last confirmed in Great Britain in 2005/06 when it infected pheasants and partridges in Surrey and East Lothian. Most commercial flocks are vaccinated against ND. ND is “notifiable”, which means if you suspect it in your flock you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline, tel: 03000 200 301. Failure to do so is an offence.
What are the signs?
Respiratory distress such as gaping, coughing, sneezing, gurgling and rattling. Tremors and paralysis and twisting of the neck. Unusually watery faeces that are yellowish- green in colour. Depression and lack of appetite. Affected hens may also suddenly produce fewer or soft-shelled eggs. The disease may quickly lead to death or be less severe, with breathing problems and reduced egg production the only detectable signs. Once contracted there is no treatment and birds must be culled.
What should I do?
Newcastle Disease is spread by contact with bodily fluids of infected birds, especially faeces, so good biosecurity is paramount. Only buy from sellers with good hygiene standards and quarantine all new or sick birds. Keep food and water under cover to protect from wild birds. Set up a disinfectant footbath at the edge of your poultry enclosure and wash your boots. You can vaccinate your flock against Newcastle Disease — contact your vet for information.