Newcastle disease

Newcastle disease is a virus that can affect all species of birds. While all birds are susceptible, it can affect species of birds differently. Chickens with Newcastle disease can get very sick and die suddenly. Other domestic poultry, such as turkeys, can also become ill. Waterfowl, such as ducks and geese, can naturally carry Newcastle disease and most commonly do not show any signs of being sick. 

Birds that become ill with Newcastle disease may display the following signs: 

  • Sneezing or coughing
  • Discharge from eyes or beak
  • Decreased food and water intake
  • Decreased egg production
  • Swelling of the skin around the eyes and in the neck
  • Greenish, watery diarrhea
  • Severe neurologic signs (tremors, drooping wings, twisting of head and neck, circling or complete stiffness)
  • Sudden death and increased death loss in a flock

A laboratory test is needed to confirm if a bird is sick with Newcastle disease. Anyone who suspects that birds under their care have Newcastle disease should immediately contact a Federal or State Animal Health Official. 

Vaccines are available for Newcastle disease but have varying levels of effectiveness against different strains of the virus. Newcastle disease vaccines should only be administered under the guidance of your veterinarian. 

In rare cases, people coming in contact with birds that have Newcastle disease may get eye swelling or mild fever-like symptoms that generally resolve without treatment. This is easily prevented by following proper biosecurity practices when around birds. No human cases of Newcastle disease have ever occurred from eating poultry products. For more information about Newcastle disease in people, contact the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Information for Producers

The best way to protect your birds from Newcastle disease is to follow proper biosecurity practices on and off your farm, and to stop wild birds from coming into contact with your production or pet birds. Learn more about biosecurity here.

General Resources

Preparedness Resources

Information for Veterinarians

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) both classify Newcastle disease as a reportable animal disease. Anyone within Iowa that knows of a bird with Newcastle disease, that was exposed to Newcastle disease, or is displaying clinical signs of Newcastle disease is legally required to promptly report it the State Veterinarian.