A Virological Survey in Migrating Waders and Other Waterfowl in One of the Most Important Resting Sites of Germany


State Laboratory Brandenburg, Frankfurt (Oder), Germany


Wild birds are considered a potential reservoir or a carrier of viral diseases and may therefore play a role in the epidemiology of economically important or zoonotic diseases. In 2001 and 2002, a survey with special emphasis on virus isolation in migrating waders and some other birds were conducted. In one of the most important inland resting sites for migratory waterfowl, tracheal and cloacal swabs were collected from 465 waders representing 19 different species, and 165 other birds that were not captured on purpose. A total of 42 avian viruses were isolated, 34 of these were identified as paramyxoviruses (PMVs). The majority of isolates came from waders and wild ducks, and were characterized as PMV-1. In contrast, PMV-4 was found in wild ducks only, PMV-6 was mainly detected in wader species. Four avian influenza viruses (AIVs), belonging to H4 and H3 haemagglutinin subtype, were isolated from wild duck species. Furthermore, four reo-like viruses were isolated from one particular wader species for the first time. The majority of virus positive birds were <1 year old and did not show any clinical symptoms. There was no evidence for the presence of West Nile virus in these birds. These results confirm that the restricted resting sites in Western Europe must be considered as important locations for the intra- and interspecies transmission of avian viruses.