Following mass deaths of Laughing Doves (Streptopelia senegalensis) in different localities throughout Kenya, internal organs obtained during necropsy of two moribund birds were sampled and analyzed by next generation sequencing. We isolated the virulent strain of pigeon paramyxovirus type-1 (PPMV-1), PPMV1/Laughing Dove/Kenya/Isiolo/B2/2012, which had a characteristic fusion gene motif 110GGRRQKRF117. We obtained a partial full genome of 15,114 nucleotides. The phylogenetic relationship based on the fusion gene and genomic sequence grouped our isolate as class II genotype VI, a group of viruses commonly isolated from wild birds but potentially lethal to Chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus). The fusion gene isolate clustered with PPMV-I strains from pigeons (Columbidae) in Nigeria. The complete genome showed a basal and highly divergent lineage to American, European, and Asian strains, indicating a divergent evolutionary pathway. The isolated strain is highly virulent and apparently species-specific to Laughing Doves in Kenya. Risk of transmission of such a strain to poultry is potentially high whereas the cyclic epizootic in doves is a threat to conservation of wild Columbidae in Kenya.
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Vol. 52 • No. 3