Authorities yesterday destroyed 80,000 chickens in the Nicosia village of Mammari after the poultry were diagnosed with the highly contagious Newcastle Disease Virus (NDV).
Speaking to The Cyprus Daily, head officer of the Veterinary Services Yiannis Yiannou assured that every precaution was being taken to contain the outbreak which he described as “very serious.”
“The decision to destroy the chickens was made immediately after tests confirmed that the highly virulent Newcastle disease was present in three commercial poultry farms in the Mammari area.”
Although not harmful to humans a probe is underway to discover the soutrce of the outbreak and who is responsible.
According to the official, on June 11 the services were alerted that some birds were exhibiting symptoms of the disease. Test results confirmed the worst.
The affected farms are currently under quarantine while all vehicles entering or leaving the vicinity are being sprayed with disinfectant.
According to the services, NDV is spread primarily through direct contact between healthy birds and the bodily discharges of infected birds. The disease spreads rapidly among birds kept in confinement, such as commercially raised chickens.
“Because it is an airborne virus it is able to spread extremely quickly especially on poultry farms where there are thousands of chickens.”
The Veterinary Services also sought to assure the public that NDV poses no hazard to human health.
“There is absolutely no need for alarm as this disease is in no way a danger to humans. If a human was to eat infected chicken meat they would be at no risk. Furthermore cooking the meat entirely destroys the virus.”
He added that the frantic rush to contain the disease is to prevent potentially devastating economic impact on the poultry industry.
“If not contained in time such a disease can incur huge economic losses which we desperately want to avoid during this financial crisis we are experiencing.”
Asked if the disease was now fully contained after yesterday’s actions, Yiannou said it was too early to tell.
“More chickens from the same district will be destroyed tomorrow (Friday) and we need to conduct tests on poultry in others areas before we can be sure they are not infected.”
The official was hesitant to comment on the economic loss so far.
“There has already been great economic loss but we cannot speculate yet as more chickens are going to be destroyed.”