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Title: Canada geese and the epidemiology of avian influenza viruses

Author
item Harris, Mark
item Brown, Justin
item Goekjian, Ginger
item Luttrell, Page
item Poulson, Rebecca
item Wilcox, Benjamin - University Of Georgia
item Swayne, David
item Stallknecht, David

Submitted to: Journal of Wildlife Diseases
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/1/2010
Publication Date: 9/1/2010
Citation: Harris, M.T., Brown, J.D., Goekjian, G., Luttrell, P., Poulson, R., Wilcox, B.R., Swayne, D.E., Stallknecht, D.E. 2010. Canada geese and the epidemiology of avian influenza viruses. Journal of Wildlife Diseases. 46(3):981-987.

Interpretive Summary: Canada geese are very common in the USA, comprised of both migratory and non-migratory (resident) populations. They have often been suggested as a potential reservoir and source for avian influenza (AI) viruses. In our studies, AI virus was not isolated from 1,667 intestinal tract swabs, and the presence of antibodies, indicating prior infection by AI viruses, was low (4/337, 1.7%). AI virus persistence in goose feces and in goose feces in water was limited. Our results were consistent with previous reports of a low prevalence of AI virus infection in Canada geese, and we suggest they play a minor, if any, role as a source for the low pathogenicity AI viruses that naturally circulate in wild bird populations.

Technical Abstract: Canada geese (Branta canadensis) are numerous, highly visible, and widely distributed in both migratory and resident populations in North America; as a member of the Order Anseriformes, they are often suggested as a potential reservoir and source for avian influenza (AI) viruses. To further examine the role of Canada geese in the ecology of AI, we re-evaluated the existing literature related to AI virus in this species and tested geese from three states, GA, WV, and MN by virus isolation and serology. The ability of AI virus to persist in goose feces also was evaluated as an additional measure of AI reservoir potential for this species. Virus was not isolated from 1,667 cloacal swabs and antibody prevalence was low (4/337, 1.7%). Finally, AI virus persistence in goose feces and in goose feces in water was limited. Our results are consistent with historic reports of a low prevalence of AI virus infection in this species, and we suggest that Canada geese play a minor, if any, role as a reservoir for the low pathogenic AI viruses that naturally circulate in wild bird populations.