Newcastle Viral Infection in Birds

By PetMD Editorial on Jul. 1, 2008

Newcastle Disease 

Newcastle disease is a viral infection that is usually seen in poultry, but it can also affect pet birds. Newcastle disease, which causes various lung and airway disorders in birds, unfortunately has no cure or treatment for it. Birds affected with this disease can also quickly spread the infection to healthy birds.

Symptoms and Types

Symptoms for Newcastle disease include:

  • Appetite loss
  • Weight loss
  • Sneezing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Eye discharge
  • Breathing problems
  • Diarrhea (usually bright yellow or green in color)
  • Loss of coordination
  • Spasms
  • Head bobbing

Advanced stages of Newcastle disease can cause jerky, involuntary movements, paralysis of the legs or wings, twisting of the neck, an unnatural head position, and dilation of the pupils in birds. However, not all infected birds display symptoms, and may die suddenly before any become apparent.


Newcastle disease is spread through respiratory discharge found in the air, contaminated food and water, feces, and contaminated environments (e.g., cages and nest boxes). However, direct contact with infected birds is the main cause for this disease.


Once diagnosed, the veterinarian will quarantine the infected bird and may euthanize (terminate) it, as there is no treatment or cure for the disease. Also, any suspected cases of Newcastle disease have to be reported to authorities, as the infection spreads quickly in domestic poultry, and is deadly.

The virus is not shown when birds are vaccinated and quarantined. Therefore, new birds imported to United States are prohibited from vaccination.

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