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Jordan Gentry

Serologic Survey of Southeastern Raptors for West Nile Virus

Jordan Gentry1, Nicole Nemeth2,3, Bo Norby4, and J. Jill Heatley5

1DVM Class of 2011, College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University, AL, USA; 2Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA; 3National Wildlife Research Center, USDA/APHIS/WS, Fort Collins, CO, USA; 4Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA; 5Department of Small Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA.

Jordan Gentry

Objective – To determine seroprevalence of anti-WNV antibodies in southeastern raptors presented for rehabilitation; detect seasonal variations of WNV exposure in raptors presented for rehabilitation; and compare WNV exposed and unexposed Red-tailed hawks’ age, gender, hematology, and final disposition.

Animals or Sample Population – 271 raptors of 16 species admitted for rehabilitation to the Southeastern Raptor Center at Auburn University.

Procedure – Serum samples were obtained and submitted to Colorado State University for analysis by plaque reduction neutralization test for anti-WNV and anti-St. Louis Encephalitis virus antibodies. Positive and negative WNV samples were compared based on species, date of admission, age, gender, hematological parameters and final disposition.

Results – Overall anti-WNV antibody prevalence was 33.6% (+/- 6%, n=271) from 2002-2006. Turkey vultures, Cooper’s hawks, Red-tailed hawks, and Barred owls showed higher seroprevalence than other species. Adult Red-tailed hawks (60%) were significantly more likely to be seropositive than immature birds (26.4%). No differences were detected in Red-tailed hawk seroprevalence based on gender, hematology, or final disposition.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance – Surveys for seroprevalence provide a method of monitoring for endemic levels of disease in a limited area. The mean seroprevalence of 33.6% is similar to seroprevalence findings from other parts of the country. The findings from this survey will enable easier interpretation of future serological findings in the southeast and may be valuable for comparison to other species’ trends in WNV seroprevalence.