File image of chicken farm. / sur

An outbreak of Newcastle disease has been detected on a farm in Andalucía, but what is it?

The first symptoms were noted at a facility in Huércal-Overa, which had approximately 10,000 chicks, on 24 June and a number of them died in the following days. The rest have now been slaughtered

ÁNGEL DE LOS RÍOS Malaga

An outbreak of virulent Newcastle disease virus (VND) has been detected on a chicken farm in Huércal-Overa in Almeria province, the Junta de Andalucía's Ministry of Agriculture, Farming, Fishing and Sustainable Development has confirmed.

The first symptoms were noted on the farm, which had approximately 10,000 six-week-old chicks, on 24 June and a number of them died in the following days. The rest have all been slaughtered and supplies of food and other items which may facilitate the spread of the virus have been destroyed at an authorised facility.

What is Newcastle disease?

José María de Torres, Andalucía's Director of Public Health and Pharmaceutical Regulation, said that the virus can cause a deadly infection in many kinds of birds only in “extremely rare” cases it can lead to mild flu-like symptoms and conjunctivitis in humans. “There is no problem” about eating chicken meat. It is nothing to do with food," he insisted.

He explained that the virus is completely deactivated when it is subjected to heat, to which it is very sensitive, and said there is absolutely no cause for alarm.

Close monitoring

The matter is now in the hands of the animal health authorities because if the disease is not controlled it can spread and birds can die. Those who have been in contact with the sick birds in Almeria will be closely monitored in case any symptoms arise, even though it has been stressed this is extremely rare.