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Monitoring exposure to avian influenza viruses in wild mammals


  • Editor: Klaus Hackländer

K. K. VanDalen. E-mail:


  • 1Avian influenza (AI) viruses primarily circulate in wild waterfowl populations and are occasionally transmitted to domestic poultry flocks. However, the possible roles of other wildlife species, such as wild mammals, in AI virus ecology have not been adequately addressed.
  • 2Due to their habitat and behaviour, many wild mammals may be capable of transmitting pathogens among wild and domestic populations. Exposure to AI viruses has been reported in an array of wild and domestic animals. The presence of wild mammals on farms has been identified as a risk factor for at least one poultry AI outbreak in North America. These reports suggest the need for seroprevalence studies examining the exposure of wild mammals to AI viruses.
  • 3Serological tests are routinely used to assess domestic poultry, domestic swine and human exposure to influenza A viruses, but these tests have not been validated for use in wild mammals. As such, some of these protocols may require adjustments or may be inappropriate for use in serology testing of wild mammals. Herein, we review these serological techniques and evaluate their potential usefulness in AI surveillance of wild mammals. We call for care to be taken when applying serological tests outside their original area of validation, and for continued assay verification for multiple species and virus strains.