Up to half of Pakistan’s poultry population has been affected by Newcastle disease (ND), largely due to low humidity in this year’s summer season, which began in April.
Dry weather makes aerosol transmission easier for viruses, according to Muhammad Shabir Shaheen of the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences in Lahore.
“During dry seasons, vapor that is less than five micron meters in size can travel long distances. I personally consider this phenomenon to be the major proliferative factor of poultry diseases, including ND,” Dr Shaheen told Asian Agribiz.
The outbreak started in coastal regions and has been transported to other parts of the country on vehicles. Many farms have not implemented sufficient biosecurity, making it easier for ND to infiltrate them.
Some farmers have blamed poor vaccine compatibility with Pakistan’s ND strain as all vaccines are currently imported. However, Dr Shaheen said that these vaccines have worked well during the other seasons.
More small and backyard poultry need to be vaccinated, although this is often ignored. Doing so will help the spread of the disease into commercial farms, he said, as will improving conditions in sheds.
“We suggest that ND outbreaks can be mitigated by improving the relative humidity in the shed and adopting appropriate biosecurity measures along with proper disposal of dead birds,” said Dr Shaheen.
“In addition, having quality DOC is a primary requirement to address the issue.”