Scottish regional resilience partnerships' framework for exotic notifiable animal diseases contingency plans

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

Appendix J: Newcastle Disease (ND)

J1. Introduction

Newcastle Disease ( ND) is a highly contagious disease of birds caused by a para-myxo virus. 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, most recently in 2007 (East Lothian). This disease does, however, 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 disease 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 Generic Contingency Framework Plan. The Notifiable Avian Diseases Control Strategy for GB contains a more detailed response to ND and can be found at During an outbreak of ND in Scotland or elsewhere in GB the ND web pages will be supplemented with additional information specific to the disease outbreak.

J2. Legislation and National Control Strategy


Disease Orders

Statutory Instrument Number


EU Directive

92/66/ EEC


Diseases of Poultry (Scotland) Order

354 (S)


The Notifiable Avian Diseases Control Strategy for GB (revised Sept 2015)

J3. 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. It 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 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 Local Disease Control Centre ( LDCC) would be established. The scale of a response would be expected to be much smaller than that of highly pathogenic Avian Influenza or FMD.

J4. Public Health

Newcastle Disease virus 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. 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.

J5. 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 Avian Influenza will further enhance control measures that protect the UK and the poultry industry from Newcastle Disease.

J6. 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 flocks.

J7. Lead Responder Control Measures Under Statutory and Regulatory Powers

J.7.1 Local Authority Principal Role

  • Enforcing Animal Health and Welfare Legislation
  • Enforcing movement restrictions
  • Enforcing of cleansing and disinfection requirements
  • Erection of signage and dissemination of guidance and information
  • Stand down and recovery

J.7.2 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, LDCC and FOB
  • Supervise the welfare of animals being culled
  • Surveillance and blood sampling of animals to demonstrate absence of disease and thus gain recognition of disease freedom

J.7.3 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)
  • handles policy issues as well as share disease control developments with SGoR, NDCC, other UK Rural Affairs departments and the EU

J.7.4 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 Avian Influenza one may be introduced under that legislation
  • disease may be confirmed in 2 or 3 days but it might take a week

J.7.5 Following Confirmation of Disease

  • an Infected Area, consisting of a Protection Zone and Surveillance Zone will be established
  • a Protection Zone (with a radius of at least 3 km) and a Surveillance Zone (with a radius of at least 10 km) will be established around the Infected Premises
  • 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 cleansing and disinfection 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 illnesses or deaths
  • all poultry on Infected Premises and those considered to be Dangerous Contacts will be destroyed. Birds will be disposed by commercial rendering or incineration

J8. Control Zones which may be declared

Statutory Instrument


Stage Declared



Diseases of Poultry (Scotland) Order 2003

Protection Zone


3 km minimum

Article 11, Schedule 2 para 1-4

Surveillance Zone


10 km minimum

Article 11, Schedule 2 para 5-8



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