Chief Vet issues warning as Newcastle Disease is detected in Belgium

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Northern Ireland’s chief vet is warning bird keepers to be vigilant after Newcastle Disease was confirmed in Belgium.

Robert Huey said his latest warned was in addition to his recent concerns relating to the potential introduction of Avian Influenza.

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.

DAERA is reminding 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

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 at https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/publications/daera-direct-regional-offices

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

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).