Exotic Newcastle Disease
Transmission, Prevention, Biosecurity
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Exotic Newcastle is spread primarily 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. Exotic Newcastle spreads rapidly among birds kept in confinement, such as commercially raised chickens. It easily contaminates hands, clothing, shoes, cages, and equipment. A diagram of how the disease spreads can be seen at http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/ahfss/ah/images/HowPoultryDiseaseSpreads.gif.
High concentrations of the exotic Newcastle 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 exotic Newcastle 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.
Incubation varies from two to 17 days depending on the species of the bird, management factors, concurrent infections, etc.
Movement of carrier birds and those in an incubating stage account for most of the outbreaks in the pet bird industry. Fertile eggs laid by infected hens can carry virus although they rarely hatch. However, the distribution of hatching eggs from an infected flock can carry the virus to susceptible birds.
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 exotic Newcastle virus for more than 400 days. Anyone who is offering to sell a large number of young parrots should be suspected of smuggling or purchasing smuggled birds.
Cockatiels, budgies, amazons, and cockatoos are highly susceptible to the disease. Other species such as lorys, macaws, canaries, finches, mynahs, and African greys may not show signs but may act as carriers. Treatment and Control: There is no treatment for END. Vaccination strategies should be discussed with your veterinarian. Use biosecurity measures to prevent diseases from affecting your birds.
Owners and buyers of pet birds should:
Prevention if near an END area
- Request certification from suppliers that birds are legally imported or are of U.S. stock, are healthy prior to shipment, and will be transported in new or thoroughly disinfected containers,
- Maintain records of all sales and shipments of flocks, and
- Isolate all newly purchased birds for at least 30 days. Restrict movement of personnel between new and old birds.
- Avoid contact with birds. Infected birds may not look sick!
- Do not share birds, equipment, or feed with other bird owners.
- Keep your birds confined and separated from free-roaming chickens.
- Thoroughly clean and disinfect any item that may have been contaminated before taking it onto your bird premises.
- Take precautions when entering your property after visiting places where disease may exist (such as bird swap meets, flea markets, bird marts, bird shows, aviaries, feed stores, pet shops, neighbors, etc.)
- Wash your hands with soap and water for 10-20 seconds.
- Thoroughly clean and disinfect your footwear, especially the soles.
- Shower, blow your nose, clean your ears, put on clean clothes and launder those you were wearing as soon as possible.
- Minimize the number of visitors and keep them away from your birds. If visitors have had any recent contact with birds, or have birds of their own, they should follow the above precautions or not go near your birds.
- Control rodents.
What is meant by biosecurity?
Owners will do the following to minimize the potential risk of spreading disease:
a) Keep bird(s) confined and in an enclosure (e.g. within a cage which is inside a residence or secure aviary).
b) Prevent free-ranging poultry from entering the property.
c) Isolate the bird(s) from visitors.
d) Do not share birds, equipment or feed with other bird owners.
e) Avoid unnecessary contact with other people's birds. Infected birds may not look sick!
f) Prior to coming in contact with birds:
•Hands: Wash your hands in soap and water for 10 to 20 seconds.
•Feet: Remove or thoroughly clean your shoes, paying particular attention to the soles. Spray soles with a disinfectant or use a disinfectant foot dip at the entrance to your property.
•Other: Shower and change into clean clothing.
g) Keep visitors to your property to a minimum. If you have visitors, they should wash their hands and clean their shoes and do not let them near your birds.
U.C. Davis Disease Control & Biosecurity
Recommendations to Prevent the Spread of Exotic Newcastle Disease - Commercial Flocks
Recommendations to Prevent the Spread of Exotic Newcastle Disease - Small Flocks
Biosecurity for Poultry Flocks
Fact Sheet: Biosecurity Guidelines to Prevent the Spread of Exotic Newcastle Disease - Information for Bird Owners (PDF)
Biosecurity Footbaths for Exotic Newcastle Disease - Information for Bird Owners (PDF)
The Newcastle disease virus is extremely sensitive to many disinfectants. However, it is very difficult to inactivate the virus if it is in organic material, such as feces. Therefore, it is very important to use a combination of both cleaning and disinfection to get rid of this virus.
How to Make a Footbath for Pet Bird Owners
excerpted from Biosecurity Footbaths for Exotic Newcastle Disease - Information for Bird Owners (PDF)
Footbaths reduce the spread of disease. Place footbaths at the entrances to your premises and at entrances to buildings containing birds. Ensure that everybody uses them.
Use disinfectants effective against Newcastle disease virus and mix according to the manufacturers' labels. Follow the manufacturers' directions and take all precautions. Prepare fresh disinfectants regularly and change them when they are dirty. Dispose of soiled disinfectant responsibly.
To make a footbath:
- Fill a suitable container with water and disinfectant.
- Provide hand brushes with every footbath.
To use a footbath:
- Thoroughly clean footwear before using the footbath - disinfectants do not work if footwear is dirty! Use a brush, water, detergent and blunt object to remove dirt, soil and fecal material - remove ALL debris.
- Place footwear into the footbath and scrub using a soft hand brush. Wash the whole boot thoroughly with disinfectant solution, particularly the sole.
- Leave the disinfectant on the footwear.
Examples of disinfectants include:
Virkon S(r) mixed at 1.3 oz. powder per gallon of water.
Nolvosan(r) (chlorhexidine diacetate 2%) mixed at 3 fluid oz. per gallon of water.
Household bleach (sodium hypochlorite 6%) mixed at 3/4 cup per gallon of water.
These procedures are not guaranteed to prevent this highly contagious virus from affecting your birds. However, they will reduce the risks.
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