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Exotic Newcastle Disease (END)

What is END?

END is a contagious and fatal viral disease affecting all species of birds. END is probably one of the most infectious diseases of poultry in the world. END is so deadly that many birds die without showing any signs of disease. A death rate of almost 100 percent can occur in unvaccinated poultry flocks. Exotic Newcastle can infect and cause death even in vaccinated birds.

What Are the Signs?

END affects the respiratory, nervous, and digestive systems. The incubation period for the disease ranges from 2 to 15 days. An infected bird may show the following signs:

Sneezing, gasping for air, nasal discharge, coughing; Greenish, watery diarrhea; 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 a flock. How Does END Spread?

END is spread mainly through direct contact between healthy birds and the bodily discharges of infected birds. The disease is transmitted through infected birds' droppings and secretions from the nose, mouth, and eyes. END spreads rapidly among birds kept in confinement, such as commercially raised chickens.

High concentrations of the END virus are in birds' bodily discharges. 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 vaccination and debeaking crews, 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.

Smuggled pet birds, especially Amazon parrots from Latin America, pose a great risk of introducing exotic Newcastle into U.S. poultry flocks. Amazon parrots that are carriers of the disease but do not show symptoms are capable of shedding END virus for more than 400 days.

What Can You Do to Prevent END?

The END virus can be picked up on shoes and clothing and moved from an area with sick birds to an area with healthy ones. Moving birds from one place to another can also spread diseases, especially because some birds can carry disease without looking sick. By making biosecurity a part of your daily routine, you can decrease the chance of END showing up in your birds.

Call your veterinarian or local extension agent to examine all of your sick birds or birds that die suddenly, especially if you have been around other people’s birds or brought new birds home.

END is also a threat to pet birds. Birds that are illegally brought into the United States may spread the END virus because they are not quarantined and tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). All bird owners should take the following precautions to avoid a disease outbreak:

Ask bird suppliers for copies of paperwork that proves their birds are imported into the United States legally or are from U.S. stock, were healthy before being shipped, and were transported in new or thoroughly disinfected containers. Keep records of all sales, shipments, and movements of birds. Separate all newly purchased birds from older ones for at least 30 days. Examine the new bird, checking it for any sign of disease or illness before introducing it into your flock. To help keep your birds healthy practice backyard biosecurity:

1. Keep Your Distance.

Restrict access to your property and your birds. Consider fencing off the area where you keep your birds and make a barrier area if possible. Allow only people who take care of your birds to come into contact with them. If visitors have birds of their own, do not let them near your birds. Game birds and migratory waterfowl should not have contact with your flock because they can carry germs and diseases.

2. Keep It Clean.

Wear clean clothes, scrub your shoes with disinfectant, and wash your hands thoroughly before entering your bird area. Clean cages and change food and water daily. Clean and disinfect equipment that comes in contact with your birds or their droppings, including cages and tools. Remove manure before disinfecting. Properly dispose of dead birds.

3. Don’t Haul Disease Home.

If you have been near other birds or bird owners, such as at a feed store, clean and disinfect car and truck tires, poultry cages, and equipment before going home.

Have your birds have been to a fair or exhibition? Keep them separated from the rest of your flock for 2 weeks after the event. New birds should be kept separate from your flock for at least 30 days.

4. Don’t Borrow Disease From Your Neighbor.

Do not share birds, lawn and garden equipment, tools, or poultry supplies with your neighbors or other bird owners. If you do, bring these items home clean and disinfect them before they reach your property.

5. Know the Warning Signs of Infectious Bird Diseases.

Early detection is important to prevent the spread of disease.

Sudden death Diarrhea Decreased or complete loss of egg production, soft-shelled, misshapen eggs Sneezing, gasping for air, nasal discharge, coughing Lack of energy and appetite Swelling of tissues around eyes and in neck Purple discoloration of the wattles, combs and legs Depression, muscular tremors, drooping wings, twisting of head and neck, in coordination, complete paralysis

6. Report Sick Birds.

Don’t wait. Early detection can make a difference. If your birds are sick or dying, call your local cooperative extension office, local veterinarian, the State Veterinarian, or U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Veterinary Services office to find out why. USDA operates a toll-free hotline (1-866-536-7593) with veterinarians to help you.

What Is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Role in Preventing END From Entering the United States?

To prevent END from being introduced into U.S. poultry flocks, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) requires that all imported birds (poultry, pet birds, birds exhibited at zoos, and ratites) be tested and quarantined for diseases before entering the country.

In addition to international import restrictions, APHIS has increased surveillance efforts to detect END if it is accidentally introduced into the United States. APHIS and State veterinarians trained to diagnose foreign animal diseases regularly conduct field investigations of suspicious disease conditions. This surveillance is enhanced by efforts from university personnel, State animal health officials, USDA-accredited veterinarians, and industry representatives.

If END were detected in domestic poultry or pet birds, APHIS would work quickly with its State and industry counterparts to implement aggressive measures, including quarantine, control, and cleanup, to prevent opportunities for the disease to spread.

Report Sick Birds!

Poultry or pet bird owners or veterinarians who suspect a bird may have END should immediately contact State or Federal animal health authorities or call 1-866-536-7593 (toll-free).

What are you doing in Arizona to combat Exotic Newscastle Disease?

The remaining quarantines of the Exotic Newcastle Disease outbreak in California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas imposed in 2002 and 2003 were lifted in September of 2003. The highly pathogenic AI quarantine implemented in Texas in February of 2004 was lifted on March 30, 2004 of last year.

Both END and AI have a national surveillance strategy coordinated by the United States Department of Agriculture with assistance from states and industry stakeholders. The Arizona Department of Agriculture in cooperation with the University of Arizona Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory is supporting the national effort to do surveillance for END, highly pathogenic AI and low pathogenic AI.

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