Virulent Newcastle Disease

What is "Newcastles"?

Newcastle disease is an infection of domestic poultry and other bird species with virulent Newcastle disease virus (VND). It is a worldwide problem that presents primarily as an acute respiratory disease, but depression, nervous manifestations, or diarrhea may be the predominant clinical form. Severity depends on the virulence of the infecting virus and host susceptibility. Occurrence of the disease is reportable and may result in trade restrictions.


 Virulent exotic Newcastles disease has been confirmed in a single deceased rooster, submitted from San Mateo county, but likely originating from the further East Bay area. As of 3/17/2019, we are not aware of any other cases yet confirmed. 


Important things that you should know:
1. This disease does not pose any significant human health risk (mild conjunctivitis and fever that normally clear up without medical intervention).
2. The primary risk management and concerns by USDA are to control and prevent the spread of this highly contagious virus to commercial poultry operations.
3. Although poultry appear to be highly susceptible, this virus is capable of infecting any bird species groups, including but not limited to pigeons, doves, parrots and others.
4. Transmission is accomplished through direct contact with other infected birds, or via indirect means with contaminated clothing, equipment or other items providing a means for the virus to be carried to other susceptible birds.
5. Although there are vaccines that can be used, they are not recommended nor should they be employed. There is no treatment for diseased birds. Best practice is to avoid introduction to your flock.
6. Clinical signs of disease include rapidly progressive respiratory and neurologic signs – typically causing high mortality.
7. Those suspecting a flock may be affected, please call the Sick Bird Hotline at 866-922-2473 



 1. Backyard poultry owners:
a. Do not expose your birds to other new birds until the detailed epidemiology of this current concern is settled.
b. Should you have any significant clinical signs of disease in your flock either contact your local veterinarian or USDA, requesting investigation and diagnosis. Keep in mind that these severe clinical signs do not necessarily have to be this disease!
c. Implement appropriate quarantine protocols before introducing new birds into your flocks, and employ strict biosecurity measures.

d. Stay current with your knowledge through searching updates through USDA online, our facebook page, or website. 


Merck Veterinary Manual

View official documentation of the Virulent Newcastle Disease  on the Merck Veterinary Manual! 

Find out more

Educate yourself on other exotic bird diseases!

We love our feathered family, and would never want them to fall ill! While everyone is thinking about the Newcastle Virus, it is a perfect time to learn about the other diseases that can affect your bird too. Always be aware of early warning signs. As soon as your bird shows any signs of illness, contact a veterinarian right away!

Merck Veterinary Manual

Diseases of pet birds