Newcastle Disease has been detected in two commercial poultry premises in the East Flanders region of Belgium, prompting the Department of Agriculture (DAERA) in Northern Ireland to warn poultry farmers to maintain high biosecurity standards.
The disease last occurred in Northern Ireland in 1997 when 1.4m poultry were slaughtered. It is a notifiable disease.
DAERA has said that the detection of the disease 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.
The disease can produce variable clinical signs in affected birds but mortality can be high, and young birds are particularly susceptible. It 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, lack of coordination, twisted necks and drooping wings, and paralysis).
How Newcastle disease is spread
DAERA has said that 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:VehiclesEquipmentClothingWater and feed