Presence of Vaccine-Derived Newcastle Disease Viruses in Wild Birds

PLoS One. 2016 Sep 14;11(9):e0162484. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0162484. eCollection 2016.


Our study demonstrates the repeated isolation of vaccine-derived Newcastle disease viruses from different species of wild birds across four continents from 1997 through 2014. The data indicate that at least 17 species from ten avian orders occupying different habitats excrete vaccine-derived Newcastle disease viruses. The most frequently reported isolates were detected among individuals in the order Columbiformes (n = 23), followed in frequency by the order Anseriformes (n = 13). Samples were isolated from both free-ranging (n = 47) and wild birds kept in captivity (n = 7). The number of recovered vaccine-derived viruses corresponded with the most widely utilized vaccines, LaSota (n = 28) and Hitchner B1 (n = 19). Other detected vaccine-derived viruses resembled the PHY-LMV2 and V4 vaccines, with five and two cases, respectively. These results and the ubiquitous and synanthropic nature of wild pigeons highlight their potential role as indicator species for the presence of Newcastle disease virus of low virulence in the environment. The reverse spillover of live agents from domestic animals to wildlife as a result of the expansion of livestock industries employing massive amounts of live virus vaccines represent an underappreciated and poorly studied effect of human activity on wildlife.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild*
  • Birds / virology*
  • Newcastle disease virus / isolation & purification*
  • Phylogeny

Grant support

This research was supported by USDA, ARS, CRIS 6040-32000-064, DTRA BAA project FRCALL12-6-3412-0005, FAPESP 2013/02059-2, FAPESP 2015/11510-5, the American Ornithologists’ Union, the Oconee Audubon Society, and the Odum School of Ecology.