In December, the USDA detected Avian Influenza (AI) in wild birds in two US locations. In Washington State, two separate virus strains were identified: HPAI H5N2 in northern pintails and HPAI H5N8 in captive Gyrfalcons that were fed hunter-killed wild birds. In Oregon, a small backyard flock of guinea fowl and chickens were found with the HPAI H5N8 strain. No human infections or contamination of commercial poultry has been detected.
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A recent study analyzed blood, cloacal swabs, and feces for bacteria (and other coliforms), viral agents (e.g., AI, Newcastle disease), and avian malaria parasites in Red Knot (Calidris canutus rufa) in San Antonio Bay, Argentina during northward migration from 2006-11. No pathogens were identified (D'Amico et al 2014). However, Maxted et al 2012 showed that Red Knots migrating through Delaware Bay, DE USA were carrying AI antibodies, indicating that the population was exposed to the virus. In the same study, antibody prevalence laughing gulls (Leucophaeus atricilla) and ruddy turnstones (Arenaria interpres morinella) were higher than in sanderlings (Calidris alba) (Maxted et al 2012).
A recent effort from the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study showed no evidence that passerines act as natural resevoirs for AI (Slusher et al 2014).
D’Amico, V. L., González, P. M., Baker, A. J., Buehler, D. M., & Bertellotti, M. (2014). Multi-year surveillance of selected avian pathogens in the migrant shorebird Red Knot (Calidris canutus rufa) at its main stopover site in Patagonia, Argentina. Journal of Ornithology, 155(2), 555–559. doi:10.1007/s10336-014-1048-6
Maxted, A. M., Luttrell, M. P., Goekjian, V. H., Brown, J. D., Niles, L. J., Dey, A. D., … Stallknecht, D. E. (2012). Avian influenza virus infection dynamics in shorebird hosts. Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 48(2), 322–34. doi:10.7589/0090-3558-48.2.322
Slusher, M. J., Wilcox, B. R., Lutrell, M. P., Poulson, R. L., Brown, J. D., Yabsley, M. J., & Stallknecht, D. E. (2014). Are passerine birds reservoirs for influenza a viruses? Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 50(4), 792–809. doi:10.7589/2014-02-043