Newcastle disease virus (NDV) causes a fast-spreading, highly contagious infectious disease in several bird species. Commercial poultry farms in Brazil were considered free of virulent NDV. Data on NDV infection levels in backyard poultry flocks and the epidemiology of the disease are limited. The aim of this study was to perform a NDV survey in backyard poultry from households flocks located around one of the main wintering sites for migratory wild birds in Brazil, and to identify potential risk factors associated with NDV. Backyard poultry may be sentinels and a source of infection for commercial poultry, since they may have as much contact with these birds as with migratory wild birds. Data were collected from 48 randomly selected households using an epidemiological questionnaire. Serum samples from poultry were tested for NDV antibodies using an ELISA, and tracheal and cloacal swabs were collected for NDV molecular detection. The risk factors were assessed using a multivariate Poisson regression with robust variance. The ELISA showed that 33.8% of the serum samples were positive for anti-NDV antibodies and in 42 households (87.5%) at least one NDV-positive bird was found. Tracheal and cloacal swabs were negative for NDV by real time RT-PCR, possible because within this region there might flow a low pathogenicity NDV strain, which can induce seroconversion with innaparent clinical findings. The prevalence ratio (PR) increased when farmers used their own replacement poultry to restock their flock (PR. = 1.64; 95% CI: 1.11-2.42). Furthermore, the increasing distance of the household flock from the "Laguna do Peixe" estuary was associated with decreasing NDV seropositivity (PR. = 0.94; 95% CI: 0.90-0.99). This is the first study in Brazil evaluating the presence of NDV and the associated risk factors in households with backyard poultry flocks. The great number of farms with seropositive birds indicates that the virus circulates in backyard flocks, and this breeding system may be a source of NDV. These data can be used to establish appropriate biosecurity and husbandry measures for this type of breeding system to prevent NDV spread in Brazil.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We would like to thank farmers and local authorities who participated in the study, and the official veterinary services (SEAPA and MAPA) for their contributions to facilitate the field work. Financial support was provided by the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq/Brazil, Project #478459/2007-6 ), and Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES).
- Backyard poultry
- Newcastle disease
- Risk factor
- Wetland areas