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Bird species involved in West Nile virus epidemiological cycle in southern Quebec
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  • Ludivine Taieb,
  • Antoinette Ludwig,
  • Nicholas Ogden,
  • Robbin Lindsay,
  • Mahmood Iranpour,
  • C.A. Gagnon,
  • Dominique Bicout
Ludivine Taieb
Research Group on Epidemiology of Zoonoses and Public Health (GREZOSP), Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Université de Montréal
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Antoinette Ludwig
Public Health Risk Sciences Division, National Microbiology Laboratory, Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)
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Nicholas Ogden
Public Health Risk Sciences Division, National Microbiology Laboratory, Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)
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Robbin Lindsay
Zoonotic Diseases and Special Pathogens Division, National Microbiology Laboratory, Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)
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Mahmood Iranpour
Zoonotic Diseases and Special Pathogens Division, National Microbiology Laboratory, Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)
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C.A. Gagnon
Swine and Poultry Infectious Disease Research Center (CRIPA), Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Université de Montréal Saint-Hyacinthe
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Dominique Bicout
VetAgro Sup
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Abstract

There have been many studies of the ecology of West Nile Virus (WNV) in the US, including the role of different bird species as reservoirs and mid-late summer shifts of feeding of Culex pipiens-restuans (CPR) mosquitoes from birds to mammals. It is often assumed that these findings are generalizable to neighbouring regions of Canada where WNV is endemic; however there have been little equivalent studies in Canada to confirm that this is reasonable. Here we construct a priority list of bird species likely involved in the transmission of WNV in the greater Montreal area by combining three sources of data i) results of WNV surveillance in wild (dead) birds in the province (2002-2015); ii) evidence from molecular blood meal analysis that bird species are fed upon by CPR, the primary enzootic vectors of WNV in the region, collected in mosquito surveillance in the study area in 2008 and 2014; and iii) a literature review on evidence of sero-prevalence and host competence of resident bird species. Three lists of 18, 23 and 53 bird species, respectively, from the three data sources, and totalizing 67 bird species were identified as potential WNV reservoirs/amplifiers. Of the 23 species identified from CPR blood meals, Common starlings, American robins, Song and House sparrows ranked the highest as possible WNV reservoirs/amplifiers. In addition, we found using logistic regression that the proportion of blood meals taken from birds compared to mammals by CPR declined significantly with surveillance week. These findings indicate broad similarity in the ecology of WNV between the study region and northeastern US although the relative importance of some bird species as hosts of CPR and WNV in this area may be somewhat different, and field studies are needed to confirm this, and explore the consequences for the risk of WNV to the human population.