Background: Although chicken anemia virus (CAV) has been detected on all continents, little is known about this virus in sub-Saharan Africa. This study aimed to detect and characterize CAV for the first time in Central African Republic and in Cameroon.
Results: An overall flock seroprevalence of 36.7% was found in Central African Republic during the 2008-2010 period. Virus prevalences were 34.2% (2008), 14.3% (2009) and 10.4% (2010) in Central African Republic and 39% (2007) and 34.9% (2009) in Cameroon. CAV DNA was found in cloacal swabs of 76.9% of seropositive chickens, suggesting that these animals excreted the virus despite antibodies. On the basis of VP1 sequences, most of the strains in Central African Republic and Cameroon belonged to 9 distinct phylogenetic clusters at the nucleotide level and were not intermixed with strains from other continent. Several cases of mixed infections in flocks and individual chickens were identified.
Conclusions: Our results suggest multiple introductions of CAV in each country that later spread and diverged locally. Mixed genotype infections together with the observation of CAV DNA in cloacal samples despite antibodies suggest a suboptimal protection by antibodies or virus persistence.