How to tell if your chickens have NCD

This bird disease is highly contagious, especially to domestic poultry. Death rates are high and no treatment is available.

What is NCD?
Newcastle disease (NCD) is one of the most serious poultry diseases in the world. It’s caused by a virus and is highly contagious, which means that it spreads rapidly among chickens. It has a high death rate and can affect any poultry operation.

How are chickens infected?
NCD is passed through the droppings of chickens carrying the virus. Healthy chickens are infected when they eat food or drink water contaminated by the droppings. They can also get infected after breathing in small airborne droplets that come from chickens that carry the virus.The virus can live for some time outside the host.

Signs of NCD in live chickensThese depend on the part of the body. The airways, gut and nervous system are usually affected. Chickens quickly become weak and often die without showing any signs of the disease.Sitting with ruffled feathers.If laying hens are infected, egg production suddenly drops. The eggs are of poor quality. They have soft shells and may be deformed and the egg whites could be watery.

  • Nervous signs
  • Walking in circles.
  • Turned heads.
  • Head held between the legs.
  • Difficulty walking.
  • Muscle twitching
  • Paralysis.
  • Gut and airway signs
  • Green diarrhoea.
  • Difficult and rapid breathing.
  • Coughing.
  • Swollen sinuses may be visible.
  • Signs in dead chicken
  • Bleeding in the stomach and gut.
  • Small red spots on the fat around the heart or intestines.
  • Watery contents in the nose and sinuses.
  • The windpipe may be
  • red or have small red spots on the sides.

Source: Animal Health for Developing Farmers, by the Agricultural Research Council-Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute (ARC-OVI). For more information call 012 529 9158.