West Nile Virus Infection Rates and Avian Serology in East-Central Illinois
Understanding the geographic role of different species of mosquito vectors and vertebrate hosts in West Nile virus (WNV) transmission cycles can facilitate the development and implementation of targeted surveillance and control measures. This study examined the relationship between WNV-antibody rates in birds and mosquito infection rates and bloodfeeding patterns in east-central Illinois. The earliest detection of WNV-RNA by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction TaqMan was from Culex restuans; however, amplification typically coincided with an increase in abundance of Cx. pipiens. Trap type influenced annual estimates of infection rates in Culex species, as well as estimation of blood meal source. Bird species with the highest WNV-antibody rates (i.e., Mourning Doves [Zenaida macroura], Northern Cardinals [Cardinalis cardinalis], American Robins [Turdus migratorius], and House Sparrows [Passer domesticus]) were also the common species found in Culex blood meals. Although antibody rates were not directly proportional to estimated avian abundance, the apparent availability of mammal species did influence proportion of mammal to bird blood meals. Antibody prevalence in the American Robin was lower than expected based on the strong attraction of Culex to American Robins for blood meals. Age-related differences in serology were evident, antibody rates increased in older groups of robins and sparrows, whereas 1st-year hatch and older adults of Mourning Doves and Northern Cardinals had equally high rates of antibody-positive serum samples. The vector and host interactions observed in east-central Illinois (Champaign County), an urban area surrounded by agriculture, are compared to studies in the densely population areas of southern Cook County.
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