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Title: International collaborations to facilitate a better understanding of Newcastle disease epidemiology

item Miller, Patti
item DIMITROV, KIRIL - National Diagnostic And Research Veterinary Medicine Institute
item Williams Coplin, Tina
item Peterson, Melanie
item Pantin Jackwood, Mary
item Swayne, David
item Suarez, David
item Afonso, Claudio

Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/28/2015
Publication Date: 10/19/2015
Publication URL:
Citation: Miller, P.J., Dimitrov, K.M., Williams Coplin, T.D., Peterson, M.P., Pantin Jackwood, M.J., Swayne, D.E., Suarez, D.L., Afonso, C.L. 2015. International collaborations to facilitate a better understanding of Newcastle disease epidemiology. FRONTIERS IN PUBLIC HEALTH. 3(235)1:10.

Interpretive Summary: Newcastle disease (ND) is one of the most significant diseases of poultry, worldwide. It is caused by virulent strains of Newcastle disease virus (NDV). The presence of virulent viruses in poultry has to be immediately reported to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Not only does the disease affect wild birds, but also it commonly causes high mortality rates on village poultry, reducing egg and meat protein availability. In addition, ND also affects intensive production facilities worldwide, by triggering the implementation of economically significant trade restrictions, and by increasing costs of production from culling and quarantines for the infected premises. Virulent NDV (vNDV) is also considered a select agent and a potential bioterrorism threat agent in the United States (U.S.). Whether in domestic poultry or wild birds, vNDV strains remain a threat to all producers of poultry. In 1998, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) assisted former Soviet chemical and biological weapons scientists to redirect their efforts to peaceful, agricultural research, and to help reduce the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Almost a decade later the DOS Biosecurity Engagement Program (BEP) was implemented with the broader mission of providing financial and intellectual assistance to microbiological laboratories to enhance biosecurity, biosafety, and pathogen and disease surveillance, while decreasing biological threats, globally. The collaborations expanded past the former Soviet Union to include south and Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. One area of common mutual interest across these regions is scientific collaboration on avian influenza virus (AIV) and Newcastle disease virus (NDV), both notifiable and listed diseases to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). In 2000, a long-standing collaboration between the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory (SEPRL) and Russian counterparts began on avian influenza and Newcastle disease viruses and provided unique opportunities for surveillance and research in the region. In 2002, SEPRL began collaborating with partners in Kazakhstan; in 2010, collaborations began with Ukraine, Egypt, and Indonesia; and in 2011, with Pakistan. From 2000-2015, SEPRL has collaborated on 14 bio-engagement research projects on avian influenza and Newcastle disease with its global partners mainly funded by the Department of State, but also more recently the Department of Defense – Defense Threat Reduction Agency. As a result of those agreements, the U.S. has obtained important epidemiological information on the movement and evolution of the Newcastle disease virus in Asia, and the training partners have developed capabilities that allow them to rapidly detect, identify, and characterize new strains of viruses. Finally, those collaborations have made it possible to know the genetic information of the new viruses, which in turn will allow the development of better diagnostic tools.

Technical Abstract: Infections of poultry species with virulent strains of Newcastle disease virus (NDV) cause Newcastle disease (ND), worldwide one of the most economically significant and devastating diseases for poultry producers. Biological engagement programs (BEP) between the Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory (SEPRL) of the United States Department of Agriculture and laboratories from Russia, Pakistan, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Indonesia collectively have produced a better understanding of the genetic diversity and evolution of the viruses responsible for ND, which is crucial for the control of the disease. The data from Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine identified possible migratory routes that may carry both virulent NDV (vNDV) and NDV of low virulence into Europe. In addition, related NDV strains were isolated from wild birds in Ukraine and Nigeria, and from birds in the continental U.S.A., Alaska, Russia, and Japan, identifying wild birds as a possible mechanism of intercontinental spread of NDV of low virulence. More recently, the detection of new sub-genotypes of vNDV suggests that a new, fifth, panzootic of ND has already originated in Southeast Asia, extended to the Middle East, and is now entering into Eastern Europe. Despite expected challenges when multiple independent laboratories interact, many scientists from collaborating countries have successfully been trained on molecular diagnostics, best laboratory practices, and critical biosecurity protocols, providing our partners the capacity to further train other employees and to identify locally the viruses that cause this World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) listed disease. These and other collaborations with partners in Mexico, Bulgaria, Israel, and Tanzania have allowed SEPRL scientists to engage in field studies, to elucidate more aspects of the ND epidemiology in endemic countries, and to get knowledge on the challenges that the scientists and field veterinarians in these countries face on a daily basis. Finally, new viral characterization tools have been developed and are available to the scientific community.