[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Despite the importance of migratory birds in the ecology and evolution of avian influenza virus (AIV), there is a lack of information on the patterns of AIV spread at the intra-continental scale. We applied a variety of statistical phylogeographic techniques to a plethora of viral genome sequence data to determine the strength, pattern and determinants of gene flow in AIV sampled from wild birds in North America. These analyses revealed a clear isolation-by-distance of AIV among sampling localities. In addition, we show that phylogeographic models incorporating information on the avian flyway of sampling proved a better fit to the observed sequence data than those specifying homogeneous or random rates of gene flow among localities. In sum, these data strongly suggest that the intra-continental spread of AIV by migratory birds is subject to major ecological barriers, including spatial distance and avian flyway.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In 2006 the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Interior, and cooperating state fish and wildlife agencies began surveillance for high-pathogenicity avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 virus in wild birds in the Pacific Flyway of the United States. This surveillance effort was highly integrated in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and western Montana, with collection of samples coordinated with state agencies. Sampling focused on live wild birds, hunter-killed waterfowl during state hunting seasons, and wild bird mortality events. Of 20,888 samples collected, 18,139 were from order Anseriformes (waterfowl) and 2010 were from order Charadriiformes (shorebirds), representing the two groups of birds regarded to be the primary reservoirs of avian influenza viruses. Although 83 birds were positive by H5 real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR), no HPAI H5N1 virus was found. Thirty-two virus isolates were obtained from the H5-positive samples, including low-pathogenicity H5 viruses identified as H5N2, H5N3, and H5N9.