The characteristics of the pathogenic infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV) that infected avian species other than commercial chickens were largely unknown. In this study, by using in vivo and molecular methods, we had characterized an IBDV isolate (named 94268) isolated from an infectious bursal disease (IBD) outbreak in Malaysian village chickens—the adulterated descendant of the Southeast Asian jungle fowl (Gallus bankiva) that were commonly reared in the backyard. The 94268 isolate was grouped as the very virulent IBDV (vvIBDV) strain because it caused severe lesions and a high mortality rate in village chickens (>88%) and experimentally infected specific-pathogen-free chickens (>66%). In addition, it possessed all of the vvIBDV molecular markers in its VP2 gene. Phylogenetic analysis using distance, maximum parsimony, and maximum likelihood methods revealed that 94268 was monophyletic with other vvIBDV isolates and closely related to the Malaysian vvIBDV isolates. Given that the VP2 gene of 94268 isolate was almost identical and evolutionarily closely related to other field IBDV isolates that affected the commercial chickens, we therefore concluded that IBD infections had spread across the farm boundary. IBD infection in the village chicken may represent an important part of the IBD epidemiology because these birds could harbor the vvIBDV strain and should not be overlooked in the control and prevention of the disease.
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Vol. 48 • No. 2