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Notifiable Diseases

 

Avian Influenza

Avian influenza is one of the most discussed poultry diseases of the last decade, mainly due to its potential ability to infect humans.

The condition is caused by a virus belonging to a group of viruses called orthmyxoviruses which include the human and swine influenza viruses. Our worry with this group of viruses is that they mutate often giving rise to many different strains- hence making vaccination almost impossible.

Just as with human Influenza, Avian Influenza comes in a variety of strains each of which vary in their severity of symptoms. Mild strains known as low pathogenic AI will only cause mild respiratory signs such as sneezing, runny nose, runny eyes  and lethargy whereas severe strains will cause your birds to appear very sick even to the point of causing sudden death.

The virus can infect all domestic fowl and wild birds giving it the ability to spread rapidly.

Because of the potential spread of AI to humans if you suspect your birds have AI or several of them have suddenly died please contact DEFRA.

 

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Newcastle Disease

Newcastle Disease was first found in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1926 (from whence it got its name).The disease is caused by a virus called Avian Paramyxovirus Type 1. This virus not only infects chickens but can affect all other types of poultry and wild birds. However waterfowl tend not to show signs of ill health, therfore they can be silent carriers of the disease.

The virus is spread through the droppings and droplets breathed out by affected birds. Over the next few days the newly infected bird will go on to develop signs of ill health.

What makes Newcastle Disease difficult to diagnose is the fact that there are three main types of the virus each of which affect different parts of the body and go on to show different clinical signs.

  • The first type ‘pneumotrophic’ infects the respiratory system of affected birds causing sneezing (snicking), runny nose, runny eyes and a swollen face.
  • The ‘neurotrophic’ strain infects the bird’s nervous system causing a twisted neck and paralysis.
  • The third type ‘viserotrophic’ affects the bird’s intestines leading to severe diarrhoea.

Certain strains of the disease will affect all three systems of the bird but in general terms all lead to a high number of birds dying. Due to its ability to kill large numbers of birds, Newcastle Disease is a notifiable disease and if you suspect your chickens have the disease or you find a large number of your chickens dying without an explanation then please contact DEFRA.

Control

No treatment for the disease exists.  In recent years the control of Newcastle Disease in EU countries has been tackled by a series of legislative directives.  These directives lay out the definition of disease, the measures to prevent introduction and spread, and the method of removing disease should an outbreak occur. 
Farm control is hinged upon biosecurity and vaccination.

Biosecurity

As with all other diseases, thorough cleaning and disinfection can reduce or even prevent any challenges from the disease.  Careful sourcing of new stock is vital to avoid buying in disease.

Vaccination

Vaccination is available for flocks, especially commercial flocks. However, factors such as cost and risk of the disease need to be considered.  Certain vaccine strains can cause reactions in the birds.

If If you suspect your birds have the disease remember it is a notifiable disease.  This means, if it is diagnosed, the infected poultry must be culled.  Controlled zones around the outbreak will be set up to limit and prevent further spread of disease.

If you suspect that your birds are suffering from any of the clinical signs mentioned then it is important to contact your vet immediately. >

 

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