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Research Article

A Retrospective (2007-2011) Analysis of Newcastle Disease Diagnosed at Avian Clinic of Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto, Nigeria

E.B. Ibitoye, A.A. Jimoh and H.U. Mungadi
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Newcastle Disease (ND) is a highly contagious viral disease of almost all species of domestic and wild birds. This disease is caused by a virus of genus Avulovirus, subfamily Paramyxovirinae of the family Paramyxoviridae. A five-year study (Jan, 2007-Dec, 2011) of case reports on ND and other poultry diseases diagnosed at the Avian Clinic of Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto (VTH-UDUS) was conducted. A total of 2,624 individual cases were documented with a prevalence of 80.9% (2,123 cases) diagnosed as ND. The result showed that there were incremental fluctuations in the prevalence of ND from 2007 to 2011. There were also variations in monthly and bird-type distribution of ND in Sokoto, with highest number of cases in March and October accounting for 88.4 and 94.4%, respectively. Layers had the highest prevalence (89.0%), followed by cockerels and pigeons (66.7%). Also intensive system of management had the highest disease occurrence of 84.7%. Poor management, improper vaccine handling and self medication practiced by the poultry farmers coupled with harsh weather conditions and inadequate diagnostic facilities may be responsible for the distribution pattern recorded. It is therefore imperative for poultry farmers to institute and intensify appropriate biosecurity measures on how to minimize horizontal transmission of the disease. Regular surveillance for ND virus should be routinely carried out.

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E.B. Ibitoye, A.A. Jimoh and H.U. Mungadi, 2013. A Retrospective (2007-2011) Analysis of Newcastle Disease Diagnosed at Avian Clinic of Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto, Nigeria. Current Research in Poultry Science, 3: 12-17.

DOI: 10.3923/crpsaj.2013.12.17

Received: April 10, 2013; Accepted: June 19, 2013; Published: July 13, 2013


In Nigeria poultry industry offered fastest supply of animal protein to man and provide comparatively quickest rate of returns on investment than livestock, hence, the increased attention being given to the health care of poultry by farmers (Molokwu et al., 1988). Disease is a hindrance to livestock production (Lamorode, 1996). The major disease problems of poultry are Newcastle disease, avian influenza, pox, bursal disease, colisepticeamia, coccidiosis and worm infestation.

Newcastle disease is an acute, highly contagious rapidly spreading viral disease affecting birds of all ages (Abdu, 2005); with many breeds of domesticated and wild bird’s susceptible (Wernery et al., 1992). It is characterized by high morbidity and mortality rates, with respiratory and nervous signs. Also, there is swollen of tissues around the eyes and neck coupled with greenish-watery diarrhea, abnormal eggs, reduced egg production and/or complete cessation of egg production (Alexander, 2001). It is caused by a virus of genus Avulovirus, subfamily Paramyxovirinae, family Paramyxoviridae (Al-Garib et al., 2003). The disease is transmitted mainly through newly introduced birds, selling or giving away sick and carrier birds (Tu et al., 1998). However, suitable climatic factors and high poultry farm concentrations favours air transmission (Alexander, 2001). The windy harmattan also encourages the spread of the virus (Musa et al., 2009). Saidu et al. (2006) reported that cold weather induces stress on chickens and subsequently lowers their immunity to ND. Throughout the world, off all poultry diseases, Newcastle disease is generally considered the most important (Herenda and Franco, 1996). A previous survey study revealed that about 60% respondents listed Newcastle disease as the main disease in their birds (FAO, 2008). In some parts of Nigeria, Newcastle disease has been rated one of the major constraints to the development of the village poultry production (Adene, 2000).

ND is of public health significance and in human; it may produce inflammation of the conjunctiva. Infection in humans is an occupational disease limited to workers handling infected birds (Brook et al., 2007). In Nigeria, ND outbreaks have shown a continuous presence of the ND virus in poultry populations since it was first reported (Saidu et al., 2006). There have been outbreaks of ND in vaccinated flocks (Abdu et al., 2005; Musa et al., 2010) with its attendant public health significance. It was against this background that this study was conducted in order to provide a base line data on the ND status of various avian species in Sokoto and to determine the population of poultry at risk, with a view to proffering solutions to the problem.


The study was conducted by collating information (poultry breed, management practice, months and yearly distribution) on cases of poultry diseases presented to the avian clinic of Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto (VTH-UDUS) from Jan, 2007 to Dec, 2011. Clinical data of outbreaks in poultry as recorded in the case file were collected; they were grouped into New castle disease (ND) and others (non-ND). Diagnosis was based on flock history, clinical signs, post-mortem and laboratory findings. Information obtained were analyzed demographically using descriptive statistics such as percentages and frequency (Gomez and Gomez, 1984). The specific rate for each of the factor was determined.


A total of 2,624 cases of poultry diseases were recorded with 2,123 (80.9%) of the cases diagnosed as ND. On yearly distribution, there were incremental changes in the incidence rate of ND. The highest prevalence rate of ND was observed in 2011 with a year-specific rate of 86.7% and the least rate of 2.7% was recorded in 2010 (Table 1). As shown in Table 2, the monthly distribution showed the highest prevalence of ND over other poultry diseases in the months of March and October with specific rates of 88.4 and 94.4%, respectively and zero prevalence in January, August and December. From this study, ND and Non-ND outbreaks observed in various types of poultry showed that layers had the highest specific morbidity rate (89.0%); followed by cockerels and pigeons each with specific rate of 66.7%. Morbidity was low in broilers (5.7%) and turkey (6.3%), while ducks, parrot, guinea fowl and peacock had the lowest morbidity rates (0.0%) (Table 3). The distribution according to management system indicates that ND outbreaks were greater among intensively reared birds than those under extensive system which in turn had higher ND outbreaks than birds managed semi intensively (Table 4).

Table 1: Annual distribution of ND and Non-ND outbreaks in Sokoto (2007-2011)

Table 2: Monthly distribution of ND and Non-ND outbreaks in Sokoto (2007-2011)

Table 3: Distribution of ND and Non-ND outbreaks in Sokoto, according to type of birds (2007-2011)

Table 4: Distribution of ND and Non-ND outbreaks in Sokoto, according to management systems (2007-2011)


The prevalence of ND in this study was 80.9%. this is higher than the reports of Ezeokoli et al. (1984) in Zaria, Baba et al. (1998) in Maiduguri, Orajaka et al. (1999) in the south eastern Nigeria, Nwanta (2003) in Kaduna, Musa et al. (2010) in Plateau State and Oyewola et al. (1996) and Ohore et al. (2002) in Ibadan. The difference in prevalence could be due to the fact that the present study included more species of birds both local and exotic breeds, while those studies were restricted to only local or village chickens except Musa et al. (2010) who worked on broiler chickens only.

The annual distribution of ND outbreaks moved in a zigzag pattern in recent times with the highest prevalence in the year 2011. This could be due to the inability of poultry farmers to consistently maintain standard biosecurity and hygienic condition of farms. It may also be as a result of increase in number of poultry farmers, engaging in backyard poultry farms in Sokoto state (Adamu et al., 2009) as well as increased sensitization of poultry farmers to report any clinical cases of poultry diseases to nearest Veterinary clinic. Also, inadequate periodic monitoring of antibody levels against ND as well as lack of well equipped veterinary laboratories could have contributed to this increase prevalence. The highest occurrence was observed in the months of March and October. This is in agreement with the reports of Abdu et al. (2005), Adamu et al. (2009) and Sonaiya (2009), suggesting high risks at this periods. The extreme hot weather in Sokoto around these months may be another factor which induces stress on the birds thereby suppressing their immunity. Besides, the control of the disease by vaccination may be ineffective due to the heat labile nature of the ND vaccine (Spradbrow, 2001). The low outbreaks recorded from of May to September agrees with the report of Sadiq et al. (2011) in Maiduguri as well as earlier reports about the disease in Sokoto (Adamu et al., 2009). This suggests the ideal time to raise birds in the hot zones of Nigeria. Layers were seen to be more prone to ND in this study. This might be attributed to the fact that layers are kept for a longer period and a wider age range are susceptible. Apart from this, layers are more commonly kept in Sokoto, probably due to their higher economic value. ND was common among chickens raised under intensive system of management in this study and this agrees with the findings of Hofacre (1986). This might be due to the fact that ND spreads rapidly among birds kept in confinement, such as commercially raised chickens, in which most of the birds are overcrowded, coupled with lack of adequate biosecurity measures which might increase the rate of direct contact between healthy birds and infected birds. The practices and conditions of intensive poultry production are considered to be optimal for disease outbreaks (Hafez, 2003). These factors may have promoted the spread of the disease among birds kept under intensive management.


This study provides background information on current distribution status of Newcastle disease in Sokoto metropolis, north-western Nigeria and the results indicate that ND is enzootic among poultry populations in Sokoto. This explicitly revealed the potential of ND in lowering poultry productivity in the area, thereby highlighting the need for effective preventive health programmes to boost poultry production.

Therefore, farmers should be properly educated on appropriate periods to stock their farms as well as appropriate ways of handling vaccines and vaccinations. Periodic monitoring of antibody levels against the disease in poultry and performance of serologic profiling of day-old chicks in order to determine optimal schedule for batch vaccination should be performed. There should be laboratory capacity building in Veterinary faculties in Sokoto to enhance comprehensive monitoring of field and vaccine strains of ND to ensure effective surveillance to mitigate pandemic emergence from Nigeria. There should be adequate support for quality vaccines to farmers as well as need for effective extension services to farmers on ND biosecurity measures in Sokoto and its environs for team work in efforts to minimize horizontal transmission of the disease.

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