Following three confirmed outbreaks on farms at the end of June, Spain’s veterinary authority has declared that Newcastle disease has been “resolved” in the south of the country.
This is according to an official notification to the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) earlier this week.
At the end of June this year, the paramyxovirus type 1 (PMV-1) was detected for the first time in Huércal-Overa. Affected was a broiler farm with around 9,500 birds, 87% of which died. Source of the infection was unknown.
A municipality in Almeria province, Huércal-Overa is part of Spain’s southernmost region, Andalusia. It is located near to the border with neighboring Murcia.
Following the initial outbreak, two other poultry farms in the same district were affected by Newcastle disease in the first week of July. According to the WOAH report, the first of these had 9,980 poultry of unspecified type, which showed symptoms of the disease, but none died. The second flock comprised 26,900 broiler chickens, of which 200 died.
In total, these outbreaks directly impacted 46,380 birds.
Following depopulation, the affected premises were cleaned and disinfected. Surveillance within and outside the zone has revealed no further cases. As a result, the national animal health agency has declared the disease event “closed” to WOAH.
Other developments in the Spanish poultry sector
As in almost all European countries, Spain has been affected by highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) since the end of 2021. Outbreaks have been linked to the H5N1 virus serotype in the country’s poultry flocks and wild birds.
So far this year, Spain has reported 32 such outbreaks in poultry to the European Commission through its Animal Disease Notification System. The most recent cases were confirmed on August 9. In addition, there have been three outbreaks in Spain's captive birds, and 53 in wild birds.
Already back in June, one of the nation’s farming organizations was warning of imminent chicken shortages in Spain. Although retail chicken prices had risen sharply, the Union of Small Farmers and Ranchers (UPA) said that poultry farmers had received very little of this increase.
Recently, the UPA has warned of likely protests by Spanish producers during September. As well as high feed prices, electricity to keep the birds cool during the hot summer months are now also rising fast.
Chicken is the most-consumed meat in the country, and farmers want their role to be fairly recognized. They are calling on poultry integrators and processors to pay them enough to cover their production costs.