Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; sage-grouse) are highly susceptible to infection with West Nile virus (WNV), with substantial mortality reported in wild populations and in experimentally infected birds. Although sage-grouse are hunted throughout much of their range, they have also recently been considered for protection under the Endangered Species Act. We used blood samples collected on filter-paper strips during the 2006–2010 Oregon, USA, annual sage-grouse hunt to survey for specific WNV-neutralizing antibodies that indicate a previous infection with WNV. During this period, hunters submitted 1,880 blood samples from sage-grouse they harvested. Samples obtained were proportional for all 12 Oregon sage-grouse hunting units. Laboratory testing of 1,839 samples by the WNV epitope-blocking enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (bELISA) followed by plaque reduction neutralization test on bELISA-positive samples yielded 19 (1%) and 1 (0.05%) positive samples, respectively. These data provided early baseline information for future comparisons regarding the prevalence of WNV-specific neutralizing antibodies in sage-grouse in Oregon. This methodology may provide other states where sage-grouse (or other species) populations are hunted and where WNV constitutes a species conservation concern with a viable option to track the relative prevalence of the virus in populations.
|Title||Utilizing hunter harvest effort to survey for wildlife disease: a case study of West Nile virus in greater sage-grouse|
|Authors||Robert J. Dusek, Christian A. Hagen, J. Christian Franson, David A. Budeau, Erik K. Hofmeister|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Wildlife Society Bulletin|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||National Wildlife Health Center|