U.S. Geological Survey Home Page USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Science Meetings; dedicated to Chandler S. Robbins USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center; Science Meetings dedicated to Chandler S. Robbins Dedicated to Chan Robbins USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center; Science Meetings dedicated to Chandler S. Robbins Poster Abstracts from USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Science Meetings, October, 2006
Patuxent Science Meeting 2006 Poster Abstract

West Nile Virus: patterns of susceptibility and immunity in two avian species

Hahn C, Reisen WK (UC-Davis), Nemeth N (CSU-VetSci), Bowen R (CSU-

BiomSci), Komar N (CDC-Ft.Collins,CO)

Emerging diseases like West Nile Virus (WNV) that infect both wildlife and humans and that are

actively transmitted between them require wildlife biologists to assist public health authorities.

In the collaboration between wildlife scientists and epidemiologists, research on wildlife species

addresses the ecological, physiological, and behavioral aspects of the disease in animals,

providing insights into how wildlife species maintain and spread the disease to people. WNV

emerged recently in North America and spread rapidly across the continent, with many wild bird

species infected and an unknown number serving as significant reservoirs for the disease. We

are working on several aspects of avian susceptibility and immunity to WNV, using different

avian species with contrasting life history patterns to elucidate different aspects of the virus. We

have experimentally examined susceptibility in species of widely different taxa, Eastern

Screech Owls and Brown-headed Cowbirds, through infection studies in the laboratory. We

documented the relative susceptibility of the screech owl and the unusual immunity of the

cowbird. We have also completed the first demonstration of maternal transfer of WNV

antibodies in any species by documenting in screech owls that mothers confer enhanced

resistance on their young through passive transfer of maternal antibodies in the yolk. Work this

season will examine the development of the avian immune system in screech owls, with the

goal of determining how susceptibility and resistance to WNV at different ages is related to the

persistence of the disease in wild populations.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Return to Posters page