The Prevalence of West Nile Virus Antibodies in Blood Samples from Song Birds Collected from the Fountain Creek Region of Colorado
Keywords:West Nile Virus, Songbirds, Antibodies
West Nile Virus (WNV) is a positive strand RNA virus (Flaviviridae) that is transmitted by mosquitoes (Culex species). The virus is normally maintained and amplified in avian reservoir hosts, but infected mosquitoes also bite humans, horses, and other vertebrates which can result in the transmission of the virus. WNV infections have been reported all over North America, including recent infections in Colorado. Mosquitoes are routinely sampled for the presence of WNV, but bird populations are more difficult to trap and analyze. In a collaborative effort, birds were trapped, banded, and blood samples were collected in the Fountain Creek Region of Colorado in summers of 2014-16. Blood samples were screened for WNV antibodies using an indirect ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay). Initial screening results have detected birds being positive for WNV antibodies. We compared WNV prevalence between families of birds. It was predicted that Icteridae, the blackbird family, would show higher WNV antibody presence than other avian families because previous studies have shown that Common grackles (Quiscalus quiscula), a member of the Icteridae family, have higher amounts of viremia. We have found that WNV antibodies were more present in Common grackles (Q. quiscula) than all other songbirds caught.
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