Between January 2004 and December 2005, cloacal swabs from essentially healthy chickens and silky chickens from live birds markets in Guangdong and Hunan provinces in southeastern China were screened for chicken anemia virus (CAV) by polymerase chain reaction. Phylogenetic analysis of the major structural protein VP1 sequences showed no clear genotype cluster and no correlation with the geographic origin of CAV strains. Virus evolution at the amino acid level was very slow, which corresponds to a strong negative selection of the VP1 gene in China and worldwide. A high proportion (87%) of birds was CAV positive, suggesting that many farms in the region were infected. Further investigations are necessary to evaluate the economic losses caused by CAV and the cost–benefit of vaccination.
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Vol. 52 • No. 1