Newcastle Disease (ND) is a highly infectious disease affecting poultry and other birds. Disease is caused by infection with virulent strains of Newcastle Disease Virus (NDV).

ND is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect it you must report it immediately by contacting the DAERA helpline on 0300 200 7840 (Mon-Fri 9 am to 5 pm) or your local Divisional Veterinary Office. Contact details can be found here.

 If you report suspicion of Newcastle Disease, DAERA will investigate.

Current situation July 2018

Newcastle Disease has been detected in two commercial poultry premises in the East Flanders region of Belgium.

The disease last occurred in Northern Ireland in 1997 when 1.4 million poultry were slaughtered.

This is a timely reminder for all bird keepers, even if they only keep one bird, to maintain high biosecurity standards and to remain vigilant for any signs of disease in their flock.

Bird keepers are reminded of the importance of excellent biosecurity and anyone concerned about their birds should contact their PVP or their local Divisional Veterinary Office.

Further advice on good biosecurity can be found here.

How to spot Newcastle Disease

Newcastle Disease can produce variable clinical signs in affected birds but mortality can be high and young birds are particularly susceptible. The disease can present as a very acute form ranging to mild or sub-clinical disease. The signs depend on which body system the strain of the virus predominantly affects (the respiratory, digestive or nervous system) and can have a sudden onset and high mortality.

Signs include quietness, depression, drops in feed/water intake and in egg production in laying birds with a high proportion of eggs laid with abnormal (soft) shells. There also may be respiratory distress (with gaping, coughing, sneezing, gurgling and rattling), yellowish green diarrhoea or nervous signs (such as tremors, incoordination, twisted necks and drooping wings and paralysis).

How Newcastle disease is spread

The disease is spread by direct contact with bodily fluids of infected birds, especially their faeces.

It can also be spread indirectly through people and objects that have been in contact with infected birds, or their excretions (such as faeces). Objects that can carry the disease include:

  • vehicles
  • equipment
  • clothing
  • water and feed

Preventing and controlling Newcastle disease

Control is targeted at strains with a high pathogenicity (ability to cause severe disease).

Controls would apply to domestic fowl, turkeys, geese, ducks, guinea fowl, quails, pigeons, ratites (e.g. ostriches), pheasants and partridges reared or kept in captivity for breeding, the production of meat or eggs for consumption or eggs for restocking supplies of game.

Newcastle Disease could be introduced to domestic poultry by contact with infective wild pigeons and other wild birds or indirectly through contamination of feed or objects.

You can help prevent the disease by:

You should also refer to the following the guidance at While AI and ND are separate diseases both are Notifiable Epizootic Avian Diseases and similar control/preventative measures apply to both diseases.

If the disease occurs in NI, the outbreak will be controlled in line with the Contingency Plan for Epizootic Diseases  and the Notifiable Epizootic Avian Disease Control Strategy    

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