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How to spot Newcastle disease in chicken

Livestock By Dr Paul Kang’ethe | 08th Aug, 2020

Newcastle disease affects chicken and is caused by the Newcastle disease virus.
 
It is transmitted through air, from eggs, faeces and dead bodies of infected birds.
 
Other transmission processes include from drinking water contaminated by faeces from sick birds, from wild birds, wild animals and dogs that carry away dead infected birds.
 
Clinical signs
Many birds in one place get New castle disease at the same time. Sometimes it’s very severe, especially for young birds. 
 
Many birds die suddenly before they have signs of the disease. Often nearly all young birds in one place die.
 
Birds stop eating and become weak and tired so they stop laying eggs. 
 
In many instances the birds will have watery green diarrhoea and become dehydrated. They cough and sneeze and discharge from the nostrils. The birds may also exhibit distressed breathing.
 
Often they have swellings around the head and neck and the comb turns blue.
 
Some birds have paralysed wing or leg or twisted neck, and sometimes the bird shakes.
 
They do not eat much and lay fewer eggs than normal and may eventually collapse and die.
 
Prevention
There is no known treatment for Newcastle disease, therefore the best prevention measure is to vaccinate.
 
The vaccination protects birds for about six months after which they should be re-vaccinated.
 
What to do in case of a disease outbreak?
Kill all sick birds and bury them far from the healthy birds.
 
The houses should be cleaned and faeces cleared away using a disinfectant.
 
One should then wait at least four weeks before bringing in new birds and vaccinate them as soon as they arrive.
 
Instructions for vaccine use
The vaccine will protect against Newcastle disease only.
 
Farmers are also advised not to vaccinate sick chicken because their immunity will be further compromised.
 
The chicken may be eaten immediately after vaccination as no harm will be caused on human beings.
 
Since it takes seven to 14 days to develop adequate protection against New castle disease after vaccination, the chicken should be re-vaccinated every four months as their level of protection will start to fall after this period. 
 
The one eye drop dose is the same for all chickens of all ages from day-old to adult and males and females.
 
If all of the first drop did not enter the eye, one is advised to apply a second drop.
 
How to prepare water suitable for reconstituting the vaccine
 
Boil local drinking water and leave to cool in a covered container
- do not use a metal container to store boiled water.
-do not treat tap water because the chlorine will destroy the vaccine. 
-If no water is available, let the treated tap water stand overnight to allow the chlorine to evaporate.
 
Storage and durability of the vaccine
The vaccine is thermostable, but you still need to treat it carefully.
 
It may be stored in the fridge at 40 degrees and will last till the expiry date given, or one year, if not reconstituted.
 
In case one is transporting it in the field, they are required to use a cool box and ice pack if available or wrap the vials in a damp cloth and carry away from sunlight.
 
The vaccine remains potent or good for two days.
 
On the first day, use one eye drop per chicken and store the remaining reconstituted vaccine in a cool box to vaccinate other chicken on the second day.
 
Use two eye drops per chicken, on the second day and discard the remaining vaccine.

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