House flies, Musca domestica L. (Diptera: Muscidae), were examined for their ability to harbor and transmit Newcastle disease virus (family Paramyxoviridae, genus Avulavirus, NDV) by using a mesogenic NDV strain. Laboratory-reared flies were experimentally exposed to NDV (Roakin strain) by allowing flies to imbibe an inoculum consisting of chicken embryo-propagated virus. NDV was detected in dissected crops and intestinal tissues from exposed flies for up to 96 and 24 h postexposure, respectively; no virus was detected in crops and intestines of sham-exposed flies. The potential of the house fly to directly transmit NDV to live chickens was examined by placing 14-d-old chickens in contact with NDV-exposed house flies 2 h after flies consumed NDV inoculum. NDV-exposed house flies contained ≈104 50% infectious doses (ID50) per fly, but no transmission of NDV was observed in chickens placed in contact with exposed flies at densities as high as 25 flies per bird. Subsequent dose–response studies demonstrated that oral exposure, the most likely route for fly-to-chicken transmission, required an NDV (Roakin) dose ≥106 ID50. These results indicate that house flies are capable of harboring NDV (Roakin) but that they are poor vectors of the virus because they carry an insufficient virus titer to cause infection.
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Vol. 44 • No. 4