In order to understand the epidemiology of Newcastle disease (ND) outbreaks in double-crested cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus), a study was conducted on wintering migratory cormorants (P. a. auritus) in Alabama and Mississippi (USA) and non-migratory cormorants (P. a. floridanus) that breed in Florida (USA). Antibodies against ND virus were detected by the hemagglutination-inhibition method in sera from 86 of 183 (47%) migratory cormorants over-wintering in eight roosting sites in Alabama and Mississippi between November, 1997 and April, 1999. Titers ranged from 5 to 40. Antibody prevalences in sera collected from females in early winter (November and December) (26%) and late winter (February and March) (56%) were significantly different (P = 0.0007). None of 45 serum samples from 1- to 7-wk-old nestlings from 11 colonies in Florida during the 1997–98 and 1998–99 breeding seasons was positive. However, antibodies were detected in yolk samples from 98 of 126 (78%) eggs collected in these same colonies. Titers ranged from 4 to 256. The prevalence of antibodies in eggs collected from fresh-water colonies (63% prevalence, n = 30) and salt-water colonies (82% prevalence, n = 96) was significantly different (P = 0.041). ND virus was not isolated from tissues of 18 cormorants and cloacal and tracheal swabs from 202 cormorants collected in Alabama and Mississippi; virus was also not isolated from cloacal and tracheal swabs from 51 nestlings from Florida.
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Vol. 37 • No. 4