A total of 38 Newcastle disease virus (NDV) isolates were obtained from 6060 fecal samples from northern pintail (Anas acuta) ducks collected in the Tohoku district in Japan during 2006–09. One isolate from each sampling location and date was selected for a total of 38 isolates, then 15 of these were characterized for their pathogenicity by mean death time of minimum lethal dose (MDT/MLD) using chicken embryos and by plaque formation on chicken embryo fibroblasts. Furthermore, nine isolates were randomly selected from these 15 isolates, and the fusion protein genes were sequenced to characterize amino acid sequences around the cleavage site. All 15 were confirmed to be nonvirulent by MDT/MLD test, and nine isolates were also confirmed as nonvirulent by the cleavage site of the fusion protein 112G/E-K/R-Q-G/E-R*L117 that was specific for nonvirulent NDVs. The characteristics of nine isolates identified by phylogenic analysis of the fusion protein gene indicated that the isolates belong to genotype I or II. In addition, we also isolated 68 avian influenza viruses and 28 other hemagglutinating viruses. Our data indicate that northern pintails are subclinically infected by, perpetuate, and distribute NDV along with different subtypes of avian influenza viruses and other hemagglutinating viruses during their migrations across vast areas over the Northern Hemisphere to Japan.

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