Blue-winged Teal and Cross Continental Avian Influenza Transmission

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This project aims to improve our understanding of the migratory ecology of Blue-winged Teal and how this may impact the ability of this species to transmit avian influenza or other pathogens across the wild bird – domestic poultry interface.This project aims to improve our understanding of the migratory ecology of Blue-winged Teal and how this may impact the ability of this species to transmit avian influenza or other pathogens across the wild bird – domestic poultry interface.

The Challenge: USGS scientists and their collaborators recently identified that Blue-winged Teal may play a critical role in the transmission of blood-borne parasites between the United States and the Neotropics. Meanwhile, researchers have also identified a wide variety of avian influenza viruses when sampling migratory Blue-winged Teal. Despite the known ability of this species to carry avian influenza and the potential role they may serve in cross continental disease transmission, little work has been done to examine the migratory ecology of Blue-winged Teal and their spatio-temporal overlap with domestic poultry.

The Science: This work has focused on understanding 3 key factors: (1) the migration and stopover ecology of Blue-winged Teal, (2) the exposure of these birds to domestic poultry during migration, and (3) the spatio-temporal association of Blue-winged Teal migration with avian influenza outbreaks. We have already started to analyze paired telemetry and disease sampling datasets using advanced statistical approaches. Our most recent results confirm that transmission potential is dependent upon stopover duration; but more work is required as we seek to better understand the dynamics at play.

The Future: Our future work will include investigations into the spatio-temporal relationship between Blue-winged Teal and domestic poultry as well as various other aspects of disease ecology and transmission dynamics.