All species of birds are at risk
of getting this disease
What is Newcastle Disease?
Exotic Newcastle Disease (END) is
a contagious and fatal viral disease affecting
all species of birds, both domestic and wild.
END is one of the most infectious diseases of
poultry in the world. It is probably the most
serious disease of chickens throughout the world.
In susceptible chickens, death rates may exceed
What causes Newcastle Disease?
Newcastle Disease is caused by a Paramyxovirus.
It is very resistant and survives a pH of 2 to
12, heating to 130° F (56° C) for 3 hours,
and can survive freezing indefinitely. Extended
drying and ultraviolet light will kill the virus.
END virus can survive for several weeks in the
warmth and humid environment of a poultry production
unit on feathers, in manure, and other materials.
What are the signs and symptoms
of Newcastle Disease?
END affects the respiratory, nervous
and digestive systems. The incubation period ranges
from 2 to 15 days. Affected birds 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 and neck,
circling, complete paralysis;
- 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 flock.
How does Exotic Newcastle Disease
spread from farm-to-farm, bird-to-bird?
Healthy birds are infected when there
is direct contact with infected bodily discharges
of infected birds such as droppings and secretions
from the nose, mouth, and eyes. Close confinement
causes a rapid spread of disease among birds.
All bodily discharges contain high concentration
of END virus. Therefore, the virus-bearing material
can be picked up on insects, rodents, containers,
shoes and clothing and carried from a sick flock
to a healthy flock. Any person on the infected
farm can spread END virus including manure haulers,
rendering truck drivers, vaccination and debeaking
crews, egg service people, load-out crews, chick
and poultry delivery personnel, and poultry farm
owners, employees, and visitors.
Are pet birds at risk of END?
Smuggling pet birds, especially Amazon
parrots pose a great risk of introducing END.
Amazon parrots that are carriers of END but do
not show symptoms are capable of shedding END
virus for more than 400 days. All species of birds
are capable of becoming infected and transmitting
Are humans at risk of getting END?
END does not pose a threat to humans.
Eggs and inspected slaughter poultry are safe
for food. Conjunctivitis has occurred in diagnosticians
and pathologists after examining infected birds.
Are waterfowl and migratory birds
at risk of spreading Newcastle disease?
Yes, cormorants and pelicans were
identified with Newcastle disease in 1992 in Minnesota,
South Dakota, Michigan and Canada. One South Dakota
poultry site and two North Dakota poultry sites
were affected. This episode of Newcastle Disease
was not the same strain of END that occurred in
California in 1998 and now in 2003, or that occurred
in Mexico in 2000.
What can poultry producers do to
lessen the risk of introducing this disease to
1. Permit only essential workers and
vehicles on premises. Ensure no shipping articles,
equipment, or personnel have contact with quarantined
2. Provide clean clothing and disinfection facilities
3. Clean and disinfect vehicles (including tires
and undercarriages) entering and leaving the premises.
4. Avoid visiting other poultry operations.
5. Maintain an “all-in and all-out”
philosophy of flock management with a single age
- Control the movement of all poultry products
from farm to farm.
- Do not “skim” mature birds
from a flock for sale to a live-poultry
- Clean and disinfect poultry houses between
each lot of birds.
6. Do not keep pet birds on the farm.
Do not hire employees who own pet birds.
7. Exclude vaccination crews, catching crews,
and other service personnel who may have been
in contact with a poultry operation within 24
8. Protect flocks from wild birds that may try
to nest in poultry houses or feed with domesticated
9. Control movement associated with the disposal
and handling of bird carcasses, litter, and manure.
10. Immediately report any suspicious illness
or death loss to the state veterinarian.
11. Take diseased birds to a diagnostic laboratory
for examination as directed by the state veterinarian.
12. Consider END surveillance as part of on-going
disease surveillance activities.
What can pet birds and backyard
poultry enthusiasts do to prevent and control
1. Follow state law, obtain a health
certificate on birds directly imported from other
2. Require certification from suppliers that birds
are legally imported or are of US stock and healthy
prior to shipment, and will be transported in
new or thoroughly disinfected containers.
3. Maintain records and shipment of flocks.
4. Isolate all newly purchased birds for at least
30 days. Restrict movement of personnel between
new and old birds.
5. Practice Biosecurity.
6. Report unusual illness or death to the state
Are your exotic pet birds legally
END is a threat to the caged-bird
industry and poultry hobbyists. Birds illegally
smuggled into the US are not quarantined and tested
on entry. Anyone who is offering to sell young
parrots should be suspected of smuggling or purchasing
smuggled birds. Amazon parrots can be carriers
of END and can shed the virus for more than 400
What is being done to prevent END
from being introduced into US birds?
USDA-APHIS requires that all imported
birds (poultry, pet birds, birds exhibited to
zoos, and ratites) be tested and quarantined for
disease before entering the country.
Why the excitement about Exotic
END is classified as a Foreign Animal
Disease when found in the US. A foreign animal
disease is defined as an important transmissible
livestock and poultry disease believed to be absent
from the US and its territories that has a potential
significant health or economic impact. Not only
is there the high death rates, severe illness,
and production losses; there is almost immediate
and severe loss of export markets.
What is the export value of poultry
products from the US?
Total US exports of poultry meat in
2001 were valued at $2.1 billion. US exports of
eggs were valued at $151 million in 2001.
Are ring neck pheasants susceptible
Yes, death losses may be quite significant,
and re-building the population may take many years.
For more information:
Visit the USDA website: