Given the importance of Avian avulaviruses (AAvVs) in commercial poultry, continuous monitoring and surveillance in natural reservoirs (waterfowls) is imperative. Here, we report full genomic and biologic characterization of two virulent AAvVs isolated from apparently asymptomatic green-winged teal (Anas carolinensis). Genetic characterization (genome length, coding potential, and presence of typical cleave motif [112RRQKR| F117]) and biologic assessment (HA, log 29; mean death time, 49.2–50 hr; 10–6.51 50% egg infective dose [EID50]/0.1 mL; and 1.5 intracerebral pathogenicity index [ICPI] value) revealed virulence of both isolates. Phylogenetic analysis of the complete genome and hypervariable region of the fusion (F) gene revealed clustering of both isolates within class II strains in close association with domestic poultry–origin AAvVs representing genotype VII and subgenotype VIIi. The inferred residue analysis of F and hemagglutinin–neuraminidase genes showed a number of substitutions in critical domains compared with reference strains of each genotype (I–XVIII). The isolates showed a high nucleotide resemblance (99%) with strain isolated previously from backyard poultry; however, they also showed a variable similarity (16.1% to 19.3%) with the most commonly used vaccine strains, Mukteswar (EF201805) and LaSota (AF077761). In accordance with pathogenicity assessment and horizontal transmission, the clinical and histopathologic observations in experimental chickens indicated the velogenic viscerotropic nature of AAvV 1 isolates. Taken together, this study confirms the evolutionary nature of AAvVs and their potential role in disease occurrence, necessitating continuous surveillance of migratory/aquatic fowls to better elucidate infection epidemiology and potential impacts on commercial poultry.
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Vol. 62 • No. 4