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Indiana State Board of Animal Health

BOAH > Species Information > Avian/Birds > Exotic Newcastle Disease Exotic Newcastle Disease

Facts About Exotic Newcastle Disease

Exotic Newcastle disease (END) is a contagious highly fatal viral disease affecting all species of birds. END is one of the most infectious diseases of poultry in the world, but has no human health effects. END is so virulent that many birds die without showing any clinical signs. A death rate of almost 100 percent can occur in unvaccinated poultry flocks while still killing birds that have been vaccinated.

What are the clinical signs?
Exotic Newcastle affects the respiratory, nervous, and digestive systems. The incubation period for the disease ranges from 2 to 15 days. An infected bird may exhibit the following signs:

  • Respiratory: sneezing, gasping for air, nasal discharge, coughing
  • Digestive: greenish, watery diarrhea
  • Nervous: depression, muscular tremors, drooping wings, twisting of head/neck, circling, complete paralysis
  • Other clinical signs: partial to complete drop in egg production, production of thin-shelled eggs, swelling of the tissues around the eyes and in the neck, sudden death, increased death loss in a flock.

How does Exotic Newcastle spread?
END is spread primarily through direct contact between healthy birds and the bodily discharges of infected birds. High concentrations of the exotic Newcastle virus are in birds' bodily discharges, including droppings and secretions from eyes, nose and mouth. Therefore, the disease can be spread easily by mechanical means. Virus-bearing material can be picked up on shoes and clothing and carried from an infected flock to a healthy one. The disease is often spread by manure haulers, rendering-truck drivers, feed delivery personnel, poultry buyers, egg service people, and poultry farm owners and employees. The END virus can survive for several weeks in a warm and humid environment on birds' feathers, manure, and other materials. It can survive indefinitely in frozen material. However, the virus is destroyed rapidly by dehydration and by the ultraviolet rays in sunlight.

How can I prevent it?
The only way to eradicate exotic Newcastle is by rapidly destroying all infected flocks and imposing strict quarantine and in-depth surveillance programs. Poultry owners should strengthen biosecurity practices to prevent the introduction of the disease to their flocks. The following are tips on proper biosecurity practices:

  • Permit only essential workers and vehicles on the premises. Employees must not have contact with backyard flocks (especially fighting cocks).
  • Provide clean clothing and disinfection facilities for all visitors and employees.
  • Clean and disinfect vehicles entering and leaving the farm.
  • Avoid visiting other poultry operations.
  • Keep birds confined and separated from free-roaming chickens.
  • Protect flocks from wild birds that may try to nest in poultry houses or feed with domesticated birds.
  • Control movements associated with the disposal and handling of bird carcasses, litter, and manure.
  • Take diseased birds to a diagnostic laboratory for examination.
  • Use disinfectants.

What should I do if I suspect END in my flock? Hoosier poultry owners should contact the Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory located at Purdue University (telephone: 765/494-7440; website: http://www.addl.purdue.edu/) to submit dead birds for testing. A veterinary referral is not required for poultry and exotic pet bird species. Backyard flocks represent an important surveillance group to ensure this disease has not spread to the state of Indiana.

Additional Links to Information About END:

Biosecurity for the birds