Review Article

History of Newcastle disease in South Africa

Celia Abolnik
Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research | Vol 84, No 1 | a1306 | DOI: | © 2017 Celia Abolnik | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 July 2016 | Published: 24 February 2017

About the author(s)

Celia Abolnik, Department of Production Animal Studies, University of Pretoria, South Africa


Poultry production in South Africa, a so-called developing country, may be seen as a gradient between two extremes with highly integrated commercial enterprises with world-class facilities on one hand and unimproved rural chickens kept by households and subsistence farmers on the other. Although vaccination against Newcastle disease is widely applied to control this devastating infection, epizootics continue to occur. Since the first official diagnosis in 1945, through the sporadic outbreaks of the 1950s and early 1960s, to serious epizootics caused by genotype VIII (late 1960s–2000), genotype VIIb (1993–1999), genotype VIId (2003–2012) and most recently genotype VIIh (2013 to present), South Africa’s encounters with exotic Newcastle disease follow global trends. Importation – probably illegal – of infected poultry, poultry products or exotic birds and illegal swill dumping are likely routes of entry. Once the commercial sector is affected, the disease spreads rapidly within the region via transportation routes. Each outbreak genotype persisted for about a decade and displaced its predecessor.


Newcastle disease; epidemiology; outbreaks; disease


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