Newcastle disease can affect many species of birds, both domestic and wild, and is of particular concern for poultry flocks. The major concern of an Newcastle disease outbreak is its potential economic impact on the poultry industry (CFIA 2003). Newcastle disease infections have been established in at least 241 species of birds representing 27 of the 50 orders of the class (Alexander et al. 2004). Newcastle disease is most severe in chickens, peafowl, guineas, pheasants, quails and pigeons (CIDRAP 2003). It can be found in a more mild form in turkeys ducks and geese and may be carried by finches and canaries, in which it may not cause any clinical symptoms of the disease (Beard 1998, in CIDRAP 2003). Carrier states can also exist in psittacine and other wild birds (OIE: Newcastle disease: Technical disease card database, in CIDRAP 2003).
Newcastle disease can typically kill up to 80 percent of unprotected poultry in rural areas and is found throughout the developing world making it one of the principal constraints to increasing small-scale poultry production in these regions (Alexander et al. 2004). Newcastle disease is one of the most infectious diseases of poultry in the world with extremely high morbidity and mortality rates, especially in chickens (100% and 90%, respectively) (CIDRAP 2003).
The global economic impact of vND (or NDV) is enormous (Steneroden 2004). No other poultry virus comes close and it may represent a bigger drain on the world’s economy than any other animal virus. In developed countries outbreaks of vND are extremely costly, and control measures, including vaccination, are a continuing loss to the industry. Countries free of vND are faced with repeated testing to maintain that status for trade purposes.
It appears that there are an unusually large number of reported Newcastle disease incidents occurring in the general Eurasian region affected by avian influenza, probably resulting from intensified surveillance for poultry disease in the area (ProMED-mail 2006e). In fact, one of the consequences of the recent world scare of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) seems to be a general increased rate of reported Newcastle Disease outbreaks. ND is listed as one of the Diseases Notifiable to the OIE. During 2005, Newcastle Disease outbreaks have been reported to the Office International des Epizooties (OIE) (or the World Organisation for Animal Health) from Botswana, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Greece, Israel, Japan, Romania, Slovakia, Turkey and UK (Marshall 2005a). Macedonia reported 2 outbreaks in 2004 and 9 in 2003 (ProMED-mail 2005l). In 2004, Greece and Albania reported one outbreak, Cyprus 2, and Russia 12, while Serbia and Montenegro had 16 outbreaks in 2002 (ProMED-mail 2005l). Two outbreaks of NDV occurred in Australia in 1998 and further outbreaks were reported in 1999 and 2000. For regular updates on the occurrance of ND please see Disease Information (OIE).
Although this virus has some effect on humans it does not pose a serious threat to human health. There have been cases where Newcastle disease has caused conjunctivitis (pink eye) in people exposed to high levels of the virus, such as in lab workers or in people working in the poultry industry who have regular contact with contaminated birds or poultry material (CFIA 2003).
Location Specific Impacts:
United States (USA)
Economic/Livelihoods: A major outbreak occurred in Californian commercial poultry from 1971 to 1973. The disease was eradicated, but not before more than $50 million was spent to destroy nearly 12 million infected birds, seriously disrupting operations of commercial poultry producers (CFIA 2003). The loss also resulted in increased costs for poultry consumers (CIDRAP 2003).
California (United States (USA))
Economic/Livelihoods: Beginning in late 2002, END invaded California. The outbreak lasted until September 2003, when the last areas of quarantine were released. More than 3.5 million birds at over 2,100 sites were affected, including 22 commercial poultry farms (Disease information update; California Department of Food and Agriculture, in CIDRAP 2003). The expense of controlling the outbreak cost $160 million.