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Poor Biosecurity Blamed for Newcastle Disease Outbreak in Iraq

20 February 2013

IRAQ - Newcastle disease outbreaks in Kurdistan last year have been attributed to inconsistent vaccination, poor biosecurity and uncontrolled imports of hatching eggs and chicks.

An outbreak of highly virulent Newcastle disease (hvND) took place in poultry farms in the Kurdistan region of Iraq last year, reports local poultry veterinarian, Oumed Gergis.

The outbreak occurred in broiler chicken farms in the cities of Erbil and Dohuk.

In the period between September and November 2012, 16 broiler flocks were surveyed in collaboration with OIE-FAO and National Reference laboratory for avian influenza and Newcastle disease in Italy. Pooled samples were collected from upper respiratory tract of chickens arrived in private veterinary clinics for diagnosis and treatment.

Affected farms had broilers aged 20 to 40 days and the average number of chickens on the farms was 10,000. The birds showed severe respiratory distress, were unresponsive to antibiotic treatment and later showed nervous signs. Mortality rates ranged from 25 to 90 per cent.

Laboratory analysis in Italy showed that 56 per cent of samples were positive for highly virulent Newcastle disease virus (hvNDV) nucleic acid using RRT-PCR, and molecular sequencing of positive samples showed that the currently circulating hvNDV strain belonged to genotype VII (lineage 5) according to Aldolus et al. (2003).

Mr Gergis reports that a number of factors may have contributed to this outbreak; lack of a consistent vaccination programme, absence of biosecurity security and uncontrolled imports of day-old chicks from Iran, Turkey and Jordan.

He stressed that it is very important for the Kurdistan veterinary authorities to reinforce strict biosecurity as without proper measures, any vaccination programme will fail. Furthermore, the issue of import permits for day-old chicks and hatching eggs should be halted so that chicks are sourced locally.

Further Reading

Find out more information on Newcastle disease by clicking here.

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