18 August 2018 | Online since 2003

24 July 2018

Risk of Newcastle Disease in UK increased following outbreaks in Europe

Newcastle Disease is a viral infection that kills some, if not most birds in flocks it infects

The government has raised the risk of Newcastle Disease occurring in the UK from low to medium, meaning an outbreak is "likely to occur".

Several outbreaks of Newcastle Disease (ND) have been reported in commercial poultry and smallholder flocks in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

Mortality rates in Belgium were 10-20% of birds in affected flocks, even in vaccinated flocks.

ND is the only disease of birds notifiable in the UK other than Avian Influenza (AI). It is normally absent in the UK, but can occur every few years.

It is a viral infection that kills some, if not most birds in flocks it infects.

Commercial poultry is vulnerable, as are gamebirds, turkeys and other poultry.

Control measures applied during outbreaks are much the same as for AI and can therefore lead to movement restrictions and potential business disruption.

All bird keepers are being urged by the government to remain vigilant and keep an eye on their birds for the clinical signs of ND.

Continuing to maintain best practice biosecurity is also crucial, the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) said.

Symptoms and signs

• Respiratory distress such as open-beak breathing, coughing, sneezing, gurgling, rattling
• Nervous signs characterised by tremors and paralysis and twisting of the neck
• Unusually watery faeces (diarrhoea) that are yellowish-green in colour
• Depression
• Lack of appetite
• Affected birds may also suddenly produce fewer eggs. Eggs that are laid may be misshapen and soft-shelled.
• Disease may be severe resulting in dramatic mortality in a large proportion of birds. Or it may have a lesser
• Affect, with breathing problems and lower egg production being the only detectable clinical signs.


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