High genetic diversity of Newcastle disease virus in poultry in West and Central Africa: cocirculation of genotype XIV and newly defined genotypes XVII and XVIII.
- Clinical and Applied Virology
Despite rampant Newcastle disease virus (NDV) outbreaks in Africa for decades, the information about the genetic characteristics of the virulent strains circulating in West and Central Africa is still scarce. In this study, 96 complete NDV fusion gene sequences were obtained from poultry sampled in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote d'Ivoire, and Nigeria between 2006 and 2011. Based on rational criteria recently proposed for the classification of NDV strains into classes, genotypes, and subgenotypes, we revisited the classification of virulent strains, in particular those from West and Central Africa, leading to their grouping into genotype XIV and newly defined genotypes XVII and XVIII, each with two subgenotypes. Phylogenetic analyses revealed that several (sub)genotypes are found in almost every country. In Cameroon, most strains were related to vaccine strains, but a single genotype XVII strain was also found. Only three highly similar genotype XVII strains were detected in Central African Republic. Subgenotypes XVIIa, XVIIIa, and XVIIIb cocirculated in Cote d'Ivoire, while subgenotypes XIVa, XIVb, XVIIa, XVIIb, and XVIIIb were found in Nigeria. While these genotypes are so far geographically restricted, local and international trade of domestic and exotic birds may lead to their spread beyond West and Central Africa. A high genetic diversity, mutations in important neutralizing epitopes paired with suboptimal vaccination, various levels of clinical responses of poultry and wild birds to virulent strains, strains with new cleavage sites, and other genetic modifications found in these genotypes tend to undermine and complicate NDV management in Africa.