On the 15th July, a case of Newcastle disease was officially confirmed on a shoot near Reigate in Surrey. Symptoms (unexplained deaths, diarrhoea and nervous symptoms such as star gazing, twisted necks and lameness) had been noticed during the previous week. Birds were submitted to a veterinary laboratory and as the findings were suggestive of Newcastle disease the case was reported to Defra who were able to isolate the virus from samples taken on the shoot.
Once the Infected Premises were declared, protection and surveillance zones were immediately set up around these and restrictions on movement of birds etc were put in place. Ten thousand two hundred and forty pheasants on the shoot were slaughtered over the following week. It is thought that the infection was brought in a shipment of poults from France. At the time of writing the outbreak would appear to be confined to the single premises.
Since the Thursday 28 July, movements of birds into the surveillance zone have been permitted under licence and subsequently the size of the surveillance zone has been reduced.
This episode is a timely reminder to all involved in running shoots that vigilance and good biosecurity is required at all times on all shoots. If anyone suspects that they may have birds infected with Newcastle Disease they must report this immediately to Defra.
For full current information and advice we would advise members to look at the information on the DEFRA website.