Exotic notifiable animal diseases contingency plans - Scottish Regional Resilience Partnerships' framework: August 2022

Information on how and when operational partners should respond to a suspect or confirmed exotic notifiable animal disease outbreak.

Appendix J: Newcastle disease (ND)


Newcastle disease (ND) is a highly contagious disease of birds caused by a paramyxovirus. Birds affected by this disease include fowls, turkeys, geese, ducks, pheasants, guinea fowl and other wild and captive birds. In Great Britain, isolated cases of this disease were first reported in the 1930s. From 1947, outbreaks occurred here over the next 30 years and there were further isolated cases, the last being in 2006 (East Lothian). However, this disease does remain a problem world-wide.

The clinical signs vary from a very acute form with sudden onset and high mortality, to a mild disease with slight respiratory symptoms and a drop in egg production as the only detectable clinical signs. Other possible signs include depression, lack of appetite, respiratory distress, diarrhoea and nervous signs. In laying flocks, a sudden drop in egg production with a high proportion of eggs laid with abnormal (soft) shells is often an early sign of disease. Young birds are particularly susceptible and mortality can be heavy, with survivors often exhibiting permanent nervous signs. Licensed vaccines are freely available for use in poultry and pigeons, and are widely used in commercial poultry production on a prophylactic basis.

The Scottish Government's response to a ND outbreak is outlined in the Scottish Government's Exotic Diseases of Animal Contingency Framework Plan. The Notifiable Avian Diseases Control Strategy for GB contains a more detailed response to ND. During an outbreak of ND in Scotland or elsewhere in GB, the ND web pages on gov.scot will be supplemented with additional information specific to the disease outbreak.

Legislation and National control strategy

Disease Orders: EU Directive

Statutory Instrument number: 92/66/EEC

Year: 2003

Disease Orders: Diseases of Poultry (Scotland) Order

Statutory Instrument number: 354 (S)

Year: 2015

Disease Orders: The Notifiable Avian Diseases Control Strategy for GB (revised Sept 2019)

Possible impact

The commercial poultry industry in Scotland is a very organised and integrated industry. Any movement restrictions, imposed as part of the disease control response, would have potentially serious consequences for producers in the Infected Area. This industry is at its most dense on the East Coast of Scotland. Commercial flocks that are routinely vaccinated against Newcastle disease would be protected. It is likely that public interest would be minimal and the expected impact on the general public would be very low. There are numerous backyard flocks within Scotland, and identifying and implementing controls on these will be resource intensive.

If Newcastle disease was confirmed, then a CDCC would be established. The scale of a response would be expected to be much smaller than that of HPAI or FMD.

Public health

Newcastle disease does not pose a significant threat to human health, even when people handle birds known to be infected. Close contact is required for transmission to humans. The disease can cause conjunctivitis and a mild fever in humans, but the symptoms only last a few days and there are no long-term effects on health. There is no risk of human infection from poultry meat or eggs.

Risk of introduction of infection

There remains a low to moderate level of threat from a number of sources. Newcastle disease is endemic in much of Africa, Asia and Central and South America, and sporadic outbreaks occur throughout the EU in most years. Disease could be introduced by importing infected poultry and poultry products, or by migrating wild birds introducing infection. Preventative measures introduced in the response to AI will further enhance control measures that protect the UK and the poultry industry from ND.

Spread of disease

Spread is usually by direct contact with secretions from infected birds (especially faeces), but can also be via contaminated feed, egg boxes, water, equipment and clothing. Wild birds may introduce the virus into kept flocks.

Lead responder control measures under statutory and regulatory powers

Local Authority principal role

  • Enforcing animal health and welfare legislation
  • Enforcing movement restrictions
  • Enforcing of C&D requirements
  • Erection of signage and dissemination of guidance and information
  • Stand down and recovery

Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) principal role

  • Respond to and investigate all reports of suspect notifiable disease
  • Lead agency in the instigation of local response to disease outbreak
  • Convene the NDCC, CDCC and FOB
  • Supervise the welfare of animals being culled
  • Surveillance and blood sampling of animals to demonstrate the absence of disease and thus gain recognition of disease freedom

Scottish Government principal role

  • Ensure necessary legislation is in place
  • Make and disseminate policy decisions
  • Make and disseminate guidance and information on disease control
  • Communicate with field staff and enforcement bodies (such as local authorities)
  • handle policy issues, as well as share disease control developments with SGoR, NDCC, and other UK Rural Affairs departments.

Following suspicion of disease

  • a restriction notice is served on the suspect premises
  • current legislation does not support a Temporary Control Zone, although if it is not possible to rule out AI, one may be introduced under that legislation
  • disease may be confirmed in 2 or 3 days but it might take a week

Following confirmation of disease

  • an Infected Area, consisting of a PZ and SZ will be established
  • a PZ (with a radius of at least 3 km) and a SZ (with a radius of at least 10 km) will be established around the IP
  • the Infected Area measures will include movement restrictions and enhanced biosecurity
  • some movements will be allowed under a general or specific movement licence according to risk assessment
  • a central C&D point would be necessary, but the throughput would be much less than that for FMD
  • captive birds, other than poultry, may or may not be affected by most of the measures in the Infected Area, but their owners would have to report any unexpected illness or deaths
  • all poultry on IPs and those considered to be Dangerous Contacts will be destroyed. Birds will be disposed of via commercial rendering or incineration

Control Zones which may be declared

Statutory Instrument: Diseases of Poultry (Scotland) Order 2003

Zone: Protection Zone

Stage declared: Confirmation

Area: 3 km minimum

Controls: Article 11, Schedule 2 para 1-4

Statutory Instrument: Diseases of Poultry (Scotland) Order 2003

Zone: Surveillance Zone

Stage declared: Confirmation

Area: 10 km minimum

Controls: Article 11, Schedule 2 para 5-8


Email: Animal.Health@gov.scot

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