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Open Access Research article

Experimental infection of duck origin virulent Newcastle disease virus strain in ducks

Yabin Dai12, Xu Cheng12, Mei Liu12, Xinyue Shen12, Jianmei Li12, Shengqing Yu3, Jianmin Zou12* and Chan Ding3*

Author Affiliations

1 Poultry Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, 58 Cangjie Road, Yangzhou, Jiangsu 225125, China

2 Jiangsu Co-innovation Center for Prevention and Control of Important Animal Infectious Diseases and Zoonosess, 88 South University Ave., Yangzhou, Jiangsu 225009, China

3 Shanghai Veterinary Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, 518 Ziyue Road, Shanghai 200241, China

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BMC Veterinary Research 2014, 10:164  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-10-164

Published: 17 July 2014



Newcastle disease (ND) caused by virulent Newcastle disease virus (NDV) is an acute, highly contagious and fatal viral disease affecting most species of birds. Ducks are generally considered to be natural reservoirs or carriers of NDV while being resistant to NDV strains, even those most virulent for chickens; however, natural ND cases in ducks have been gradually increasing in recent years. In the present study, ducks of different breeds and ages were experimentally infected with duck origin virulent NDV strain duck/Jiangsu/JSD0812/2008 (JSD0812) by various routes to investigate the pathogenicity of NDV in ducks.


Six breeds (mallard, Gaoyou, Shaoxing, Jinding, Shanma, and Pekin ducks) were infected intramuscularly (IM) with JSD0812 strain at the dose of 5 × 108 ELD50. Susceptibility to NDV infection among breeds varied, per morbidity and mortality. Mallard ducks were the most susceptible, and Pekin ducks the most resistant. Fifteen-, 30-, 45-, 60-, and 110-day-old Gaoyou ducks were infected with JSD0812 strain at the dose of 5 × 108 ELD50 either IM or intranasally (IN) and intraocularly (IO), and their disease development, viral shedding, and virus tissue distribution were determined. The susceptibility of ducks to NDV infection decreased with age. Most deaths occurred in 15- and 30-day-old ducklings infected IM. Ducks infected IN and IO sometimes exhibited clinical signs, but seldom died. Clinical signs were primarily neurologic. Infected ducks could excrete infectious virus from the pharynx and/or cloaca for a short period, which varied with bird age or inoculation route; the longest period was about 7 days. The rate of virus isolation in tissues from infected ducks was generally low, even in those from dead birds, and it appeared to be unrelated to bird age and infection route.


The results confirmed that some of the naturally occurring NDV virulent strains can cause the disease in ducks, and that ducks play an important role in the epidemiology of ND. The prevention of NDV spread in ducks should receive more attention and research in terms of preventing the occurrence and prevalence of ND.

Newcastle disease virus; Duck; Breed; Age; Susceptibility; Pathogenesis; Virus shedding