Newcastle disease found in Russian village poultry

Cause of the recent loss of a village poultry flock in Russia’s Far East has been identified as Newcastle disease. This was the first confirmed outbreak of the disease in the country for several months.

(Lakmal Weerasinghe | Bigstock)
(Lakmal Weerasinghe | Bigstock)

In early September, an outbreak of Newcastle disease hit a village poultry flock in the Shilkinsky district in central Zabaykalsky krai. Out of the flock of 250 birds, 168 died, according to the official report from the agriculture ministry in Moscow to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Presence of the virus was subsequently confirmed by the All-Russia Research Institute for Animal Health.

These were the first cases of Newcastle disease in this region, reported the ministry, and source of the infection is unknown.

Zabaykalsky krai is in Russia’s Far Eastern federal district. The region shares long borders with Mongolia and China.

In the first half of 2019, Russia’s veterinary agency recorded seven outbreaks of Newcastle disease in its territory — 3 in Stavropol krai (North Caucasian federal district), and one in each of Krasnodar krai (Southern district), Chechnya (also North Caucasian district), Primorsky krai (Far Eastern district), and Saratov oblast (Volga district). No cases in Russia were reported to the OIE during 2017 or 2018.

The epidemiological situation for Newcastle disease in Russia was described as “unstable” by Volkova and co-authors. In a research paper published in Veterinary Science Today earlier this year, they reported finding antibodies to the virus in around one-third of samples taken from backyard poultry in Russia in 2017. They also found high seroprevalence on farms in North Caucasian republics and southern regions of the Federation, according to an abstract of the paper on Research Gate.

The researchers expressed concern about these findings, which they said indicated a risk of Newcastle disease among Russia’s backyard and commercial poultry flocks.

Newcastle disease situation in other countries

Newcastle disease is a contagious and often fatal viral disease of poultry, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The disease does not pose a threat to human health, but outbreaks cause significant economic losses to affected poultry flocks worldwide.

There have been a number of outbreaks of virulent Newcastle disease in California since May of 2018. Up to October 11 of this year, the virus had been confirmed at 451 premises, mainly in “backyard exhibition chickens,” according to APHIS. The most recent Newcastle disease outbreak in the U.S. was in a backyard poultry flock in Riverside County, California on September 9.

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