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Newcastle disease (ND) is a notifiable disease affecting chickens and other avian species caused by virulent strains of Avian paramyxovirus type 1 (APMV-1). While outbreaks of ND can have devastating consequences, avirulent strains of APMV-1 generally cause subclinical infections or mild disease. However, viruses can cause different levels of disease in different species and virulence can evolve following cross-species transmission events. This report describes the detection of three cases of avirulent APMV-1 infection in Great Britain (GB). Case 1 emerged from the ‘testing to exclude’ scheme in chickens in Shropshire while cases 2 and 3 were made directly from notifiable avian disease investigations in chicken broilers in Herefordshire and on premises in Wiltshire containing ducks and mixed species, respectively). Class II/genotype I.1.1 APMV-1 from case 1 shared 99.94% identity to the Queensland V4 strain of APMV-1. Class II/genotype II APMV-1 was detected from case 2 while the class II/genotype I.2 virus from case 3 aligned closely with strains isolated from Anseriformes. Exclusion of ND through rapid detection of avirulent APMV-1 is important where clinical signs caused by avirulent or virulent APMV-1s could be ambiguous. Understanding the diversity of APMV-1s circulating in GB is critical to understanding disease threat from these adaptable viruses.
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