Newcastle Disease

Index of Bird DiseasesSymptoms and Potential CausesBird Species and Diseases They are Most Susceptible to


Newcastle Disease is caused by a virus. The first symptoms usually consists of respiratory distress and rasping followed in 1 or 2 days by a paralysis of legs and wings and bad down between legs or straight back over shoulders. A twisting of the neck (stargazing may also be observed.

In adult birds, loss of production along with some respiratory distress and paralysis after 4 to 6 days.



  • Many species of birds, both domestic and wild
  • Chickens are the most susceptible poultry, ducks and geese are the least susceptible poultry
  • A carrier state may exist in psittacine and some other wild birds



  • Direct contact with secretions, especially faeces, from infected birds
  • Contaminated feed, water, implements, premises, human clothing, etc.
  • The mortality and morbidity rates vary among species, and with the strain of virus
  • Incubation period is 4-6 days


Sources of virus

  • Respiratory discharge, feces
  • Carcasses
  • Virus is shed during the incubation period and for a limited period during convalescence
  • Some psittacine birds have been demonstrated to shed the virus intermittently for over 1 year



Endemic in many countries. Some European countries have been free of the disease for years


Symptoms / Diagnosis

  • Respiratory and/or nervous signs:
    • gasping and coughing
    • drooping wings, dragging legs, twisting of the head and neck, circling, depression, inappetence, complete paralysis
  • Partial or complete cessation of egg production
  • Eggs are misshapen, rough-shelled, thin-shelled and contain watery albumen
  • Greenish watery diarrhea
  • Swelling of the tissues around the eyes and in the neck
  • Morbidity and mortality depend on virulence of the virus strain, degree of vaccinal immunity, environmental conditions, and condition of the flock



There is currently no treatment.

Procedures to control the disease:

  • Strict isolation of outbreaks
  • Destruction of all infected and exposed birds
  • Thorough cleaning and disinfection of premises
  • Proper carcass disposal
  • Pest control in flocks
  • Depopulation followed by 21 days before restocking
  • Avoidance of contact with birds of unknown health status
  • Control of human traffic.
  • One age group per farm (‘all in-all out’) breeding is recommended
  • Vaccination with live and/or oil emulsion vaccines

Relevant Websites: Electronic Discussion on Newcastle Disease in Migratory Birds and the Criteria for Newcastle Disease Diagnosis

Information contained on this website is provided as general reference only. For application to specific circumstances, professional advice should be sought.