Characterization of velogenic Newcastle disease viruses isolated from dead wild birds in Serbia during 2007.
Avian paramyxoviruses type 1 or Newcastle disease viruses (NDV) are frequently recovered from wild birds and such isolates are most frequently of low virulence. Velogenic NDV are usually recovered from poultry and only occasionally from wild birds. Five NDV isolates were obtained from carcasses of four wild bird species during 2007 in Serbia: Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus), feral Rock Pigeon (Columba livia), and Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto). All the isolates have a typical fusion protein cleavage site motif of velogenic viruses (112R-R-Q-K-R-F117). The highest homology (99%) for the nucleotide sequences spanning the M and F gene of the studied isolates was with the genotype VII NDV isolate Muscovy duck/China(Fujian)/FP1/02. Phylogenetic analysis based on a partial F gene sequence showed that the isolates from wild birds cluster together with concurrent isolates from poultry in Serbia within the subgenotype VIId, which is the predominant pathogen involved currently in Newcastle disease outbreaks in poultry worldwide. It is unlikely that the wild birds played an important role in primary introduction or consequent spread of the velogenic NDV to domestic poultry in Serbia, and they probably contracted the virus from locally infected poultry.