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poultry disease management agency - ARTICLES

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Newcastle Disease Outbreak Notification - 01 Nov 2013

With respect to the current Newcastle outbreak

To all poultry veterinarians, poultry farmers

We are currently experiencing a severe outbreak of Newcastle and I wish to draw your attention to the following:

1) Newcastle disease is quarantined on a suspicion. It is pointless to wait until there is confirmation of a diagnosis. This clause is contained in the regulations and needs to be adhered to.

2) Various euphemisms exist for an outbreak of Newcastle. These include challenges, breaks, etc. etc. Please note that an outbreak is defined as the presence of field strain virus. Outbreaks can be detected by abnormally high titres on serology as well as suspicious signs. Anything reasonably suspicious needs to be reported to the applicable state veterinarian. The aim of state control is to attempt to slow the spread of the disease. Newcastle causes devastation among poultry farmers both commercial and emerging farmers. Preventing further spread is the responsible thing to do. Please notify the state as soon as you have a suspicion and avoid actions or evasions which may lead to the suspicion by the state that the outbreak has not been reported.

3) We seem to be at odds about what symptoms are suspicious for Newcastle. In the present situation, significant production drops and significantly increased mortalities may be enough for a suspicion of Newcastle. Symptoms of middle ear infection, nervous signs and other typical signs should be regarded as suspicious and reported to the applicable state veterinarian.  A quarantine will be placed until diagnostic tests have been done to conclusively rule out Newcastle. Where symptoms are very suspicious of Newcastle, sentinels should and will be placed even if the PCR is negative, as the placement of sentinels is a more sensitive method of diagnosing Newcastle. Sentinels are also used to ensure that a quarantine can be lifted without fear of the virus still being active.

4) It is an offence under the Animal Diseases Act not to report a suspicion or a case of Newcastle disease. This applies to the farmer, the veterinarian and the laboratory doing the tests.

5) Newcastle is likely to cause devastation in South Africa this year. We all need to cooperate to put this problem to rest. Better reporting will lead to better control and prevention which we all need.

I hope that this clarifies the situation.

Kind regards

Dr Deryn Petty

Chief State Veterinarian Biosecurity

Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

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