Genetic diversity of Newcastle disease virus in wild birds and pigeons in West Africa.
- Clinical and Applied Virology
In West and Central Africa, virulent Newcastle disease virus (NDV) strains of the recently identified genotypes XIV, XVII, and XVIII are enzootic in poultry, representing a considerable threat to the sector. The increasing number of reports of virulent strains in wild birds at least in other parts of the world raised the question of a potential role of wild birds in the spread of virulent NDV in sub-Saharan Africa as well. We investigated 1,723 asymptomatic birds sampled at live-bird markets and sites important for wild-bird conservation in Nigeria and 19 sick or dead wild birds in Cote d'Ivoire for NDV class I and II. Typical avirulent wild-type genotype I strains were found in wild waterfowl in wetlands in northeastern Nigeria. They were unrelated to vaccine strains, and the involvement of inter- or intracontinental migratory birds in their circulation in the region is suggested. Phylogenetic analyses also revealed that genotype VI strains found in pigeons, including some putative new subgenotype VIh and VIi strains, were introduced on multiple separate occasions in Nigeria. A single virulent genotype XVIII strain was found in a dead wild bird in Cote d'Ivoire, probably as a result of spillover from sick poultry. In conclusion, screening of wild birds and pigeons for NDV revealed the presence a variety of virulent and avirulent strains in West Africa but did not provide strong evidence that wild birds play an important role in the spread of virulent strains in the region.