Action on Newcastle Disease - update

UK - Action was taken on the Government's animal disease contingency plan today in response to an outbreak of Newcastle Disease in pheasants at a farm in Surrey.
calendar icon 20 July 2005
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Joint epidemiological investigation linking Newcastle Disease in England and France - UK - On 15 July 2005 the UK confirmed an outbreak of Newcastle Disease (ND) in pheasants on a premises in Surrey. Initial investigations identified two possible sources of the infection. The birds had been imported from France and so it was possible that they had first become infected there.

The second possibility was that the pheasants had been infected once they had arrived in England from contact with wild birds. It is known that wild birds can carry the virus responsible for ND.

The UK contacted the French authorities who immediately began a thorough investigation. There was a rapid exchange of information concerning the movement of birds between France and the infected premise in England. The EU's TRACES notification system provided information on the movement of birds between France and the UK. The French authorities identified a number of farms that had supplied birds to the infected farm. They undertook active surveillance and sampling which has now allowed them to conclude by blood sampling that birds on one farm have been exposed to the ND virus in the Loire Atlantique "Département" of France. Although virus isolation results are not yet available, the French authorities have taken decisive action to control the disease and have reported the incident to both the EU Members States and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) today.

The Loire Atlantique farm concerned is a large game bird farm keeping pheasants and partridges. The source of infection for this farm has yet to be identified. There is a lake close to the farm where migratory birds are found. That is the most likely source of infection. There have been no consignment to or from the farm since June 1, except the one consignment of pheasants sent to England on June 22.

Full control measures, as required by EU law, have been taken by the UK and French authorities. Action has been taken to cull the affected birds.

Although any outbreak of ND is unwelcome and causes financial loss to our poultry industries, this is a good example of close cooperation between the veterinary authorities in the two countries. The rapid exchange of information has allowed the source of infection to be identified quickly. Collaboration between the authorities and diagnostic laboratories will continue to confirm the link between the two premises.

This statement is issued jointly by the Chief Veterinary Officer of Defra and the French Chief Veterinary Officer: "All countries are at constant risk of outbreaks of ND due to the reservoir of infection that exists in wild birds. The industries already take precautions including good Biosecurity and vaccination to minimise the risk of disease. However, out breaks will occur and when they do it is important that all concerned, officials and industry, cooperate and act decisively to contain and control the disease. This investigation is a good example of such cooperation between Member States which has quickly resulted in identification of the linked infected premises.

However, investigations in both countries must continue as further cases could occur linked to the two current premises. Officials will actively trace movements of birds and people and carry out surveillance around the known cases. Keepers of poultry and game birds should remain vigilant. They should report any suspicion of disease, maintain high standards of Biosecurity and consult their veterinary advisers about vaccination."

Source: Defra - 19th July 2005

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