Newcastle disease

There is evidence of even earlier manifestations of the disease with similar symptoms and patterns in central Europe (Halasz), in 1912 (Alexander and Senne 2008).Other synonyms of the disease are atypical fowl pest (Pseudopestis avium), Asian fowl plague and Avian paramyxovirus type 1 infection.

Newcastle disease

Photo: J. Lee

Newcastle disease lesions

Photo: Dr Mouahid

Newcastle disease lesions

Photo: Dr Mouahid

In a recent review, a number of ND panzootics have been recognized since 1926 (Aleaxander et al. 2004). The first most probably originated from the Far East and spread slowly worldwide. It took more than 20 years for this outbreak to become panzootic.

The second HD panzootic began before the end of the 1960’s and spread globally within 4 years (Hanson 1972). The notably different speeds of the ND spread between the two outbreaks could be attributed to the development of the world poultry industry allowing for extensive contact between poultry production companies (Alexander et al. 2004). Other factors involved were the increasing dominance of air transportation globally making the transfer of caged birds easier.

By the end of the 1970’s, antigenic and genetic evidence was produced for a third panzootic outbreak, though the origin of the processes remained unclear, probably masked by the extensive application of vaccines since the mid 1970’s (Alexander 1997; Herczeg et al. 2001).

The fourth panzootic spread of ND was recorded in the 1980’s, this time in racing and show pigeons rather than domestic poultry. At the end of the 1970’s pigeons were not routinely vaccinated and therefore were completely susceptible to the ND virus. 

The infection among pigeons probably originated in the Middle East (Kalete et al. 1985) and by the mid 1980s had turned into a panzootic. Wild pigeons have also contributed to spreading the disease in many countries, a large number of which have remained ND endemic.

A new wave of ND has been affecting south East Asia since 2010