Submitted to: Emerging Infectious Diseases
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 14, 2008
Publication Date: August 1, 2008
Citation: Winker, K., Spackman, E., Swayne, D.E. 2008. Rarity of influenza A virus in spring shorebirds, southern Alaska. Emerging Infectious Diseases. 14(8):1314-1316. Interpretive Summary: Knowledge of avian influenza virus (AIV) prevalence and distribution in wild birds is essential for understanding the ecology of the virus developing and testing plans. During the spring of 2006 and 2007 gulls and sandpipers were sampled at an important shorebird migration site, the Copper River Delta area of Alaska. During the spring migration millions of birds congregate and this region has the highest concentrations of these birds in the Western hemisphere. In this study a total of 1,820 birds were tested for AIV. One AIV was identified from a Gull. In relation to previously reported studies of AIV in wild birds, our data suggest differences within North America for different bird species in AIV infection rates.
Technical Abstract: Knowledge of AIV and host epidemiology and ecology is essential for effective monitoring and mitigation plans. We conducted AIV surveillance in the spring of 2006 and 2007 at a continentally important shorebird migration site, the Copper River Delta area of Alaska. During spring migration many millions of birds congregate, causing the highest spring shorebird concentrations in the New World. A total of 1,050 shorebirds (Western Sandpiper, Calidris mauri, and Least Sandpiper, C. minutilla) and 770 Glaucous-winged Gulls (Larus glaucescens) were sampled and screened by real-time RT-PCR for influenza A virus, and virus isolation was performed on rRT-PCR positives. One AIV was identified from a Glaucous-winged Gull reflecting an overall prevalance of 0.055%. Our data suggest differences within a continent and within a genus (Calidris) for the North American migration system. This confirms that knowledge of how AI viruses cycle in wild bird hosts remains incomplete at continental and family-level taxonomic scales.