The avian notifiable diseases avian influenza and Newcastle disease are two of the most feared livestock diseases, both being highly infectious transboundary viral diseases that can affect domestic poultry and wild and captive birds. As a result, both diseases are the subject of internationally recognised definitions, as described by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and legislation for the purposes of maintaining poultry health, trade and disease control. This article, the first in a three-part series, focuses on avian influenza, including influenza virus biology and the statutory definitions and epidemiology of the disease. In addition, key clinical and pathological features of avian influenza in different poultry hosts are described. Parts 2 and 3, which will be published in forthcoming issues of In Practice, will discuss, respectively, Newcastle disease and the investigation of poultry health problems with reference to avian notifiable diseases and differential diagnoses.
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