Wild waterfowl is considered a natural reservoir of potentially infectious agents and a source of pathogenic viruses like avian paramyxoviruses type 1 (APMV 1). In 1997, commercial poultry in Argentina had reached the status of being free from virulent Newcastle disease virus (NDV) infections. Vaccination and biosecurity measures are actively performed to maintain this preferential sanitary condition. However, the risk of reintroduction of pathogenic viruses is always present. In this context, we conducted a study to describe the status of wild healthy birds in a geographic region relevant for the poultry industry. The presence of anti-NDV antibodies was determined in different species in all areas sampled suggesting previous contact with NDV. Seven ND viruses were isolated and characterized as apathogenic strains by biological and molecular methods. The phylogenetic analysis revealed that the majority of the Argentinian isolates form a subgroup related to viruses of genotype II. The results presented here highlight the importance of maintaining strict biosecurity measures and vaccination programs in poultry industries in order to preserve the virulent NDV-free status for commercial flocks in the country.
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Vol. 49 • No. 4