EcoHealth

, 3:79

Migrating Birds as Dispersal Vehicles for West Nile Virus

  • Jennifer Owen
  • Frank Moore
  • Nicholas Panella
  • Eric Edwards
  • Rachel Bru
  • Megan Hughes
  • Nicholas Komar
Original Contributions

Abstract

Whereas migrating birds have been implicated in the spread of West Nile virus (WNV), there is no direct evidence of birds actively migrating while infectious. The role of birds in WNV dispersal is difficult to assess in the field. However, this role can be evaluated experimentally because birds in migratory disposition display increased locomotor activity or restlessness under captive conditions. We tested the following hypotheses: (1) migrating passerine birds continue to exhibit migratory activity while infectious with WNV and (2) the migratory state of the individual affects the magnitude of viremia. We examined the migratory activity of two neoarctic-neotropical passerine migrants, Swainson’s thrush (Catharus ustulatus) and gray catbird (Dumetella carolinensis), during acute WNV infection. All gray catbirds and six of nine Swainson’s thrushes exhibited migratory activity while infectious. Moreover, migratory status did not appear to influence viremia titers, as might be expected if individuals were immunosuppressed during migration. Therefore, we demonstrate that migrating passerine birds are potential dispersal vehicles for WNV.

Keywords

West Nile virus dispersal migratory bird Swainson’s thrush gray catbird migratory disposition 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Owen
    • 1
  • Frank Moore
    • 1
  • Nicholas Panella
    • 1
  • Eric Edwards
    • 1
  • Rachel Bru
    • 1
  • Megan Hughes
    • 1
  • Nicholas Komar
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of Southern MississippiHattiesburgUSA

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