Country Smallholding - - News -

THE RISK of New­cas­tle Dis­ease (ND) in the UK has in­creased from low to medium fol­low­ing re­cent out­breaks of a par­tic­u­larly vir­u­lent strain of the virus in com­mer­cial and small­holder flocks in Bel­gium, The Nether­lands and Lux­em­bourg. A medium cat­e­gory risk means that an out­break is ‘likely to oc­cur’. ND af­fects chick­ens, tur­keys, game­birds and other poul­try. Mor­tal­ity rates in Bel­gium were 10-20% of birds in af­fected flocks, even in those flocks that have been vac­ci­nated.

As a re­sult of the risk level be­ing raised in Bri­tain, the An­i­mal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and De­fra is urg­ing poul­try and cap­tive bird keep­ers to en­hance their biose­cu­rity and vig­i­lance by mon­i­tor­ing their birds for signs of dis­ease and re­port­ing any sus­pi­cions to their vet and to APHA.

Coun­try Small­hold­ing’s vet Vic­to­ria Roberts said: “The ad­vice for biose­cu­rity dur­ing the Avian In­fluenza out­break in 2017 is per­fect for pro­tect­ing your chick­ens against New­cas­tle Dis­ease as well. It is im­por­tant to keep your good biose­cu­rity mea­sures up to scratch.”

Poul­try species that are af­fected by ND may show the fol­low­ing clin­i­cal signs:

Res­pi­ra­tory dis­tress, such as gap­ing beak, cough­ing, sneez­ing, gur­gling and rat­tling;

Ner­vous be­hav­iour, such as tremors, paral­y­sis and twist­ing of the neck;

Un­usu­ally wa­tery fae­ces that are coloured a yel­low­ish-green; De­pres­sion and a lack of ap­petite; Pro­duc­tion of fewer eggs which could be mis­shapen and soft-shelled.

The UK gov­ern­ment has not im­posed any re­stric­tions on bird keep­ers in re­sponse to the find­ings of ND in Bel­gium, but the APHA and De­fra are con­tin­u­ing to mon­i­tor the sit­u­a­tion.

ND, a vi­ral in­fec­tion that kills some and oc­ca­sion­ally most birds in the flocks it in­fects, is the only dis­ease of birds no­ti­fi­able in the UK other than Avian In­fluenza (AI). It is nor­mally ab­sent in Bri­tain, but it can oc­cur ev­ery few years. Con­trol mea­sures ap­plied dur­ing out­breaks are much the same as for AI and can there­fore lead to move­ment re­stric­tions and po­ten­tial busi­ness dis­rup­tion.

For fur­ther ad­vice, visit www.gov.uk; www.gov. wales and www.gov.scot.

Chick­ens, as well as tur­keys, game­birds and other poul­try can be af­fected by New­cas­tle Dis­ease

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