Newcastle disease is a highly contagious disease of birds caused by a paramyxovirus. Birds affected by this disease are fowls, turkeys, geese, ducks, pheasants, guinea fowl, and other wild and captive birds, including ratites such as ostriches, emus and rhea.
The disease is transmitted through infected birds' droppings and secretions from the nose, mouth, and eyes. The disease is spread primarily through direct contact between healthy birds and the bodily discharges of infected birds. Virus-bearing material can also be picked up on shoes and clothing and carried from an infected flock to a healthy one.
Possible routes of transmission therefore include contact between poultry and also through movements of contaminated vehicles, equipment, manure, feed and water. The virus can survive for several weeks in a warm and humid environment on birds' feathers, manure, and other materials.
MINIMISING DISEASE RISK
The ultimate aim, as with any disease and particularly with fast spreading diseases such as Newcastle disease, is to prevent infection. This guide has been produced to help those owning or caring for poultry or other captive birds help keep their stock disease free.
Be vigilant. Newcastle Disease affects the respiratory, nervous, and digestive systems. The incubation period for the disease can range from 2 to 15 days, usually between 2 and 6 days. An infected bird may exhibit the following signs:
- Sneezing, gasping for air, nasal discharge, coughing;
- Greenish, watery diarrhoea;
- Depression, muscular tremors, drooping wings, twisting of head and neck, circling, complete paralysis;
- Swelling of the tissues around the eyes and in the neck;
- Sudden death;
- Increased death loss in a flock.
- In laying birds there can be partial to complete drop in egg production; and production of pale-shelled or thin-shelled eggs;
Anybody suspecting disease should report this immediately to the State Veterinary Service at their local animal health office.
Keepers of poultry and other captive birds should maintain stringent biosecurity measures to reduce the risk of introducing any disease into their birds or spreading disease should it occur.
Biosecurity is a set of management practices that collectively reduce the potential for the introduction or spread of animal (including bird) disease-causing agents into and between groups of animals. The Scottish Government wishes to encourage everyone to take responsibility for biosecurity to avoid the devastating effects of animal diseases.
Key Practices include:
- Buying in healthy stock from proven sources
- Providing clean food and water
- Maintaining good standards of hygiene
- Separation and isolation of new or ill stock
- Appropriate slurry management or disposal of faeces
- Traceability and identification of stock, visitors and deliveries.
Further information on these practices is available in the biosecurity section on our website or in our 'Codes of Recommendations for the Welfare of Livestock: Animal Health and Biosecurity'.
Maintaining good standards of personal hygiene is equally important in preventing the spread of disease from birds to people. Bird keepers should use suitable protective clothing at all times and wash their hands after completing a task.
Newcastle Disease does not pose a significant threat to human health.
Information on Newcastle disease:
Contact details for animal health offices: