Avian influenza shedding patterns in waterfowl: implications for surveillance, environmental transmission, and disease spread

Journal of Wildlife Diseases
By:  and 



Despite the recognized importance of fecal/oral transmission of low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) via contaminated wetlands, little is known about the length, quantity, or route of AI virus shed by wild waterfowl. We used published laboratory challenge studies to evaluate the length and quantity of low pathogenic (LP) and highly pathogenic (HP) virus shed via oral and cloacal routes by AI-infected ducks and geese, and how these factors might influence AI epidemiology and virus detection. We used survival analysis to estimate the duration of infection (from virus inoculation to the last day virus was shed) and nonlinear models to evaluate temporal patterns in virus shedding. We found higher mean virus titer and longer median infectious period for LPAI-infected ducks (10–11.5 days in oral and cloacal swabs) than HPAI-infected ducks (5 days) and geese (7.5 days). Based on the median bird infectious dose, we found that environmental contamination is two times higher for LPAI- than HPAI-infectious ducks, which implies that susceptible birds may have a higher probability of infection during LPAI than HPAI outbreaks. Less environmental contamination during the course of infection and previously documented shorter environmental persistence for HPAI than LPAI suggest that the environment is a less favorable reservoir for HPAI. The longer infectious period, higher virus titers, and subclinical infections with LPAI viruses favor the spread of these viruses by migratory birds in comparison to HPAI. Given the lack of detection of HPAI viruses through worldwide surveillance, we suggest monitoring for AI should aim at improving our understanding of AI dynamics (in particular, the role of the environment and immunity) using long-term comprehensive live bird, serologic, and environmental sampling at targeted areas. Our findings on LPAI and HPAI shedding patterns over time provide essential information to parameterize environmental transmission and virus spread in predictive epizootiologic models of disease risks.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Avian influenza shedding patterns in waterfowl: implications for surveillance, environmental transmission, and disease spread
Series title Journal of Wildlife Diseases
DOI 10.7589/0090-3558-47.3.566
Volume 47
Issue 3
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher Wildlife Disease Association
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Leetown
Description 13 p.
First page 566
Last page 578
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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