Notes to broadcasters on Newcastle disease

    | November 22, 2010

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    Newcastle disease is a contagious viral disease that affects poultry. It is usually fatal. The disease is quite common in Africa and a major constraint to production in some areas. There is no treatment for Newcastle disease. A vaccine exists, and sanitary measures can be taken to reduce the likelihood of outbreaks. There are a number of reasons farmers do not vaccinate. They may not know the vaccine exists, it may not be available locally, it may not be affordable, there may be storage problems, or there may not be trained personnel to administer it correctly.

    Here are three basic references on Newcastle disease. They explain the symptoms, how it is transmitted, preventative measures, and what to do if you suspect infection: 

    Farm Radio Weekly published an article on paravets which you may find relevant and interesting. Paravets often include community vaccination in their activities:

    Tanzania: Paravets help keep herds healthy

    In 2009 Farm Radio International produced a script on Newcastle disease as part of a package on livestock health:

    Adventures of Neddy: A community animal health worker helps a village manage Newcastle disease. Package 88, Script 3, July 2009

    You may also wish to research and produce a news story on Newcastle disease and access to vaccines and veterinary care in your area. Questions to ask may include:
    -How common is Newcastle disease in your broadcast area? Does it discourage farmers from raising chickens and other poultry?

    -What steps do farmers take to prevent an outbreak of Newcastle disease?

    -Can farmers buy an affordable vaccine locally? Do they vaccinate their chickens? If not, why not?

    -What other diseases have they seen in chickens?

    -Do veterinarians and/or paravets serve your area? How well do farmers feel that these practitioners are meeting their veterinary needs? For example, can farmers access animal care in a timely fashion, and can they rely on the quality of care?
    -What is the role of traditional veterinary knowledge in preventing and treating disease in local livestock? Can you find examples of indigenous techniques that farmers find effective?