[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although pseudorabies virus can affect a wide range of mammalian and avian hosts, swine are the only natural hosts of the virus. The US commercial swine industry obtained pseudorabies-free status in 2004, which was important because of the economic value of domestic swine production; however, feral swine remain competent hosts and represent a constant threat for reintroducing the virus into the commercial industry. To better assess feral swine infection status, we collected 8,498 serum samples from feral swine across the United States between 1 October 2009 and 30 September 2012. Of these, 18% were antibody positive in 25 of 35 states where samples were collected, indicating that transmission risk is widespread.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Traditionally, the epidemiology of avian influenza viruses (AIVs) in wild birds has been defined by detection of virus or viral RNA through virus isolation or reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction. Our goals were to estimate AIV antibody prevalence in Canada geese (Branta canadensis) and measure effects of age and location on these estimates. We collected 3,205 samples from nine states during June and July 2008 and 2009: Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Washington, and West Virginia. Serum samples were tested for AIV antibodies with the use of a commercial blocking enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Overall, 483 (15%) Canada geese had detectable antibodies to AIV. Significantly higher prevalences were detected in geese collected from northeastern and upper midwestern states compared with southeastern states. This trend is consistent with results from virus isolation studies reporting AIV prevalence in North American dabbling ducks. Within Pennsylvania, significantly higher antibody prevalences were detected in goose flocks sampled in urban locations compared to flocks sampled in rural areas. Antibody prevalence was significantly higher in after-hatch-year geese compared to hatch-year geese. No significant differences in prevalence were detected from 10 locations sampled during both years. Results indicate that Canada geese are frequently exposed to AIVs and, with resident populations, may potentially be useful as sentinels to confirm regional AIV transmission within wild bird populations.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We modified and evaluated capture nets fired from the Coda Netlauncher® as a tool for capturing various avian species. We modified the netlauncher by using customized nets to maximize the area of the capture zone. We captured 137 birds, comprising 12 species, in 23 attempts between July 2008 and October 2009 using this method. Capture success rates varied from 25 to 69% were comparable to success rates reported for other capture methods for these species. However, individual capture success for different net configurations varied greatly from 3 to 65%. Minimal injuries and 2 bird fatalities were reported. The netlauncher, using modified nets, proved to be a cost-, labor-, and time-efficient tool compared to what has been reported for other avian capture techniques. The netlauncher provides managers with a lightweight, flexible method of capture that does not use combustive or explosive propellants, and, thereby minimizes associated training and regulatory oversight.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In this study we used feathers to biomonitor exposure to the polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) Aroclor 1268 congener mixture in clapper rails (Rallus longirostris). This species has been used as an indicator species of environmental damage for the LCP superfund site located in Brunswick, GA, USA which is contaminated with Aroclor 1268, a congener mixture that has been used in limited amounts elsewhere and therefore can be used as a contaminant marker. The Aroclor 1268 congener mixture, including congener profiles, were quantified in feathers using gas chromatography (GC). Concurrently, each sample was quantified for the total Aroclor 1268 congener mixture using an enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay (ELISA) and compared to the GC results to determine if ELISA was an efficient method for quantifying or qualifying PCBs in feathers. ELISA consistently quantified PCB loads over an order of magnitude lower than the GC. Based on sample replication, extraction recovery, and sample spike, it appears that GC is the more reliable method of detection and that ELISA methods may be more suitable for qualitative exposure assessment for this particular Aroclor. Moreover, since all clapper rails from the LCP site had the Aroclor 1268 congener mixture in their feathers, this experiment showed that birds were returning to the site to breed despite the adverse effects experienced by this population from the contamination revealed in previous studies. This study also supports the utility of feathers as a non-lethal mechanism by which to biomonitor PCBs in the environment.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Surveys for evidence of exposure to pseudorabies virus (PRV), Brucella suis, swine influenza virus (SIV; human-like H1N1, reassortant type H1N1, H1N2-like H1N1 and H3N2), porcine circovirus 2 (PCV 2), and porcine respiratory and reproductive syndrome virus (PRRSV) in feral swine (Sus scrofa) were conducted in areas where feral swine were geographically associated with high densities of transitional swine premises in South Carolina and high densities of commercial swine production in North Carolina. In South Carolina, 10/50 (20.0%), 7/50 (14.0%), and 29/49 (59.2%) feral swine tested antibody positive for PRV, B. suis, and PCV-2, respectively. Antibodies to PRRSV (0/49) and SIV (0/49) were not detected. In North Carolina, antibodies to PRV and B. suis were not detected in serum samples from 120 feral swine; however, antibodies to PRRSV (1/120 [0.8%]), PCV-2 (86/120 [71.7%]; these included 80 positives plus six suspects), and SIV (108/119 [90.7%]) were present. The presence of PRV and B. suis in South Carolina may have been due to the introduction of infected feral swine into the area or to a previous association of feral swine with infected transitional swine. Their absence in the North Carolina populations may have been due to the absence of these disease agents in the feral swine originally introduced into the area and the lack of a potential for contact with infected commercial swine. Feral swine associated with commercial swine in North Carolina may have been exposed to SIV subtypes circulating in commercial swine via airborne spread of SIV from commercial swine facilities. Feral swine seropositive for PCV-2 were prevalent in both states, which may indicate efficient transmission from commercial swine and transitional swine, or that PCV-2 is widespread in feral swine. The low prevalence of animals with antibodies against PRRSV may indicate a less-than-efficient means of transmission from commercial to feral swine. Additional epidemiologic studies are needed to understand the risks and mechanisms of transmission of disease agents among commercial, transitional, and feral swine, and the role of feral swine as reservoirs of these disease agents.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Clapper rails (Rallus longirostris) were used as an indicator species of estuarine marsh habitat quality because of their strong site fidelity and predictable diet consisting of mostly benthic organisms. Mercury (Hg) and the polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) Aroclor 1268 concentrations were determined for sediments, crabs, as well as clapper rail adults and chicks collected from salt marshes associated with the LCP Superfund site in Brunswick, Georgia. Home ranges were established for adult rails, and sediment and crab samples were taken from each individual's range. The study was designed to minimize the spatial variability associated with trophic transfer studies by choosing an endpoint species with a potentially small home range and specifically sampling its foraging range. The mean home range for clapper rails was 1.2 ha with a median of 0.28 ha. Concentrations of Hg and Aroclor 1268 were shown to increase with each trophic level. Transfer factors between media followed the same pattern for both contaminants with the highest between fiddler crabs and clapper rail liver. Hg and PCB transfer factors were similar between sediment to fiddler crab and fiddler crab to muscle, however the PCB transfer factor from fiddler crabs to liver was over twice as large as for Hg. PCB congener profiles did not significantly differ between media types.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Feral swine (Sus scrofa) are an ever-increasing problem across the United States. Besides physical environmental damage that they cause, they may harbor and transmit a number of pathogens to humans, livestock, and other domestic animals. We sampled feral swine across the state of Mississippi for titers to several diseases. Antibodies against Brucella were found in 16 of 499 (3.2%) feral swine, and antibodies against pseudorabies (porcine herpes virus, type 1; Herpesveridae sp.) virus were identifi ed in 37 of 499 (7.4%) feral swine from across the state of Mississippi. Evidence of classical swine fever, African swine fever, swine infl uenza, and foot-and-mouth disease were not identifi ed in any of the feral swine examined.