The Newcastle Disease Virus (NDV) exists in a variety of strains and occasionally causes mortality in colony-nesting birds, such as double-crested cormorants, pelicans and gulls. NDV in wild birds generally is not lethal in poultry. Newcastle disease occurs naturally in wild cormorants throughout their range in North America. Occasional outbreaks occur, but they appear to be short-lived and affect limited numbers of colony-nesting species.
Birds affected with the NDV show signs of partial paralysis of the wings and legs. Affected birds cannot fly or dive and some limp or fall over.
The disease does not pose a health risk for people; however, in rare cases it has been known to cause conjunctivitis (mild eye irritation with possible flu-like symptoms for up to seven days), usually in people who have come into contact with many infected birds.
If you come in contact with sick or dead cormorants or gulls, etc., avoid handling the birds, but please report them to the nearest Ministry of Environment office.
Anyone who has handled a sick or dead bird or visited a nesting colony in the affected areas should wash their hands and clothes immediately and disinfect shoes and equipment with a five per cent bleach solution. Precautions such as these will help prevent spreading the disease to other areas of the province.