Avian influenza virus in the aquatic environment: Surveillance in waterfowl habitat on the Delmarva Peninsula.

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Avian influenza virus in the aquatic environment: Surveillance in waterfowl habitat on the Delmarva Peninsula.

Biosurveillance for avian influenza viruses (AIV) among wild and domestic bird populations helps to identify potential risks for transmission and epizootic disease. The environmental distribution and longevity of AIV is quite relevant to biosurveillance efforts.  Avian influenza viruses are known to persist outside the host in the aquatic environment, both in water and sediment, with longevity depending upon various environmental condition factors. There are also potential biotic reservoirs of AIV in aquatic environments.  Laboratory experiments have shown that AIV may be taken up from the water column and retained by filter feeding invertebrates, including bivalve molluscs.

Research in waterfowl habitat of the Delmarva Peninsula (Maryland, USA) is examining the identification of AIV from environmental reservoirs as compared to recovery of AIV from waterfowl in the same region.  Genetic material, specifically DNA from the Type A influenza virus matrix gene, has been detected in sediment samples from waterfowl habitat.  Current investigations to assess native bivalve mollucs (clams and mussels) for presence of AIV with similar molecular methodology are also ongoing.

Related References:

Prosser, D. J., C. L. Densmore, L. J. Hindman, D. D. Iwanowicz, C. A. Ottinger, L. R. Iwanowicz, C. P. Driscoll, and J. Nagel. (2016)  Low-pathogenic avian influenza viruses in wild migratory waterfowl in a region of high poultry production, Delmarva, Maryland.   Avian Diseases. 61(1):128–134. 

Densmore, C.L., D. D. Iwanowicz, C. A. Ottinger, L. J. Hindman, A. M. Bessler, L. R. Iwanowicz, D. J. Prosser, M. Whitbeck, and C. P. Driscoll (2017) Molecular Detection of Avian Influenza Virus from Sediment Samples in Waterfowl Habitats on the Delmarva Peninsula, United States.   Avian Diseases Vol. 61 (4): 520-525. 

Ottinger, C.A., Iwanowicz, D.D., Iwanowicz, L.R., Adams, C.R., Sanders, L.R., and Densmore, C.L., 2018, A method for determining avian influenza virus hemagglutinin and neuraminidase subtype association: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2018–1102, 15 p.,https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20181102

 

Mallard duck

Mallard ducks are potential carriers of low pathogenic avian influenza virus in Delmarva waterfowl habitat.

(Credit: Christine L. Densmore, DVM PhD, USGS, Leetown Science Center. Public domain.)

Migratory waterfowl

Overwintering grounds of migratory waterfowl on the Delmarva Peninsula (Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge)

(Credit: Christine L. Densmore, DVM PhD, USGS, Leetown Science Center. Public domain.)

Sentinel oysters

Sentinel oysters deployed in cages to test for presence of the avian influenza virus matrix gene.

(Credit: Christine L. Densmore, DVM PhD, USGS, Leetown Science Center. Public domain.)