September 26, 2008
Queenstown, in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, have been hit hard by an extremely malignant Newcastle poultry disease according to the province's agriculture department.
Head of department's veterinary services Dr Luba Mrwebi said that there had been two flocks with confirmed cases so far, one at a commercial poultry establishment near the town and the other in Mlungisi Township.
Newcastle disease affects all birds including poultry, and is caused by a paramyxo virus and spreads very rapidly via airborne transmission, nasal discharges, contaminated feed and water, faeces, carcasses, wild birds and via infected eggs.
Affected birds showed severe respiratory distress with blue to black combs, coughing and gasping followed by rapid death.
A large percentage of fowls in unvaccinated flocks may die of the disease when infected and young birds were particularly susceptible with mortality of up to 100 percent, while laying hens would show a dramatic drop in egg production, Mrwebi said.