This disease was first identified in 1926 in England. Newcastle Disease in birds is often referred to as Avian Distemper. Newcastle Disease is considered to be one of the most contagious diseases between birds and one of the most important diseases involving poultry in the world.
The very severe and even more contagious form is called END or Exotic Newcastle disease. Exotic Newcastle disease often causes instant death in birds without any sign of disease or evidence of being malnourished. Outbreaks are usually caused by illegal importation of exotic birds due in part to the bird smuggling industry.
How Is Newcastle Disease Spread
Both domestic and wild birds are able to catch Newcastle disease. Chickens are the most prone to obtaining this disease. Ducks, geese, parrots, and turkeys are also able to catch Exotic Newcastle disease.
This disease is easily spread by direct contact and fomites. Direct contact is usually by the droppings from their cage or respiratory infection discharge by infected birds. Fomites can be anything such as clothing, equipment, bowls, and so on.
Keep in mind that this disease can also spread and penetrate through eggshells that have had any contact with infected items. This disease is able to live in the environment for 3-4 weeks in the ideal environment which is warm and humid.
Signs Of Newcastle Disease
Birds that are infected with Newcastle disease often show ocular and nasal discharge, bloody diarrhea, and difficulty breathing. Balance problems, tremors that involve the neck and the head area, and depression are also very important signs to look for. Complete paralysis and hyperexcitability are also rare possibilities. Sudden death with this disease is not unusual.
How Is New Castle Disease Prevented
First of all if you or another animal has become infected, you need to contact your doctor to seek out his recommendations. You should always wear smocks, protective gloves, and safety glasses around birds that have displayed signs of illness or lack of energy. Washing your hands well after each bird exposure remains the best way to prevent spreading disease.
There is no treatment for this disease but there is a serum that can be given to birds that have been exposed. The incubation period for this disease is about 7 days. Birds imported from Southeast Asia appear to be the most at risk of obtaining this disease.
Birds that die without any reason should be examined for signs of Newcastle disease via necropsy. Live birds showing disease should also be examined and tested for Newcastle disease. Birds are tested by isolating the virus from the feces or organs. Reports should be sent United States Department of Agriculture who will make recommendations on euthanasia, disposal, and disinfection.
The USDA also has recommendations:
New birds need to be isolated for at least 30 to 45 days in a quarantine area. All clothing and personal protection equipment should be well disinfected after each use. There should be equipment and cleaning items that are color coded and labeled for that area only to avoid cross contamination via items.
All birds in other areas that are to be brought into the United States need to be quarantined in a facility for 30 to 45 days. Certification should be requested by each bird supplier. A health certificate should also be requested as proof that the birds were deemed healthy.
- Avoid visiting other locations that house poultry.
- Have strict guidelines for handling and removing carcasses, manure, and litter.
- Clean and disinfect every vehicle and piece of equipment after use. Also disinfect cages or poultry houses between every lot of birds.
- All clothing used by employees should be disinfected with a broad spectrum disinfectant.
- Only workers who are really needed on the farm should be there. Items that are not essential and staff that are not needed should be moved.
Strict sanitation, reporting, and employee compliance are the cornerstone of success when dealing with any disease. Make sure that each staff member is well trained in each step of the care taking process. Missing one vital step could spell disaster because one mistake is all it takes to cause an outbreak.