Migratory Birds
Midwest Region

Avian Health and Disease Program

Investigating Newcastle Disease Virus in Wisconsin
Lead investigator: Jason Suckow, USDA Wildlife Services

Newcastle Disease Virus is highly contagious and can cause significant mortality among wild migratory birds such as gulls, American white pelicans and Double-crested cormorants. Newcastle Disease Virus outbreaks in cormorants in the upper Midwest appear to be increasing in frequency as outbreaks have occurred in five out of the last six years. There is little scientific information available as to why this may be occurring. The purpose of this research is to better understand this disease and its impacts. This research aims to establish avian health baselines and identify existing and emerging avian health and disease risks by determining previous and current infection status of cormorants on Spider and Pilot Islands in Door County, Wisconsin. The research also aims to collect data to develop a better understanding of Newcastle disease and its impacts to assist wildlife managers and decision makers with best available information to ensure avian disease preparedness and possible prevention.

The results of the research will provide scientific data and analysis of Newcastle Disease Virus in Great Lakes cormorants to help management agencies develop, guide, and implement appropriate and effective avian disease management actions. The avian health grant from the Avian Health and Disease Program in the amount of $31,456 will be used to collect samples, run laboratory diagnostics, and to analyze and document the findings.

The collaborative effort between USDA Wildlife Services, U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center, USDA Wildlife Service National Wildlife Research Center, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the Service’s Horicon National Wildlife Refuge will be important to understanding Newcastle disease and its impacts to local wildlife. Information from this research will ultimately be used by management agencies to develop, guide, and implement appropriate and effective avian disease management actions.

Last updated: August 2, 2017