Avian influenza virus (AIV) prevalence and sequence data were analyzed for Steller’s eiders ( Polysticta stelleri ) to assess the role of this species in transporting virus genes between continents and maintaining a regional viral reservoir with sympatric northern pintails ( Anas acuta ). AIV prevalence was 0.2% at Izembek Lagoon and 3.9% at Nelson Lagoon for Steller’s eiders and 11.2% for northern pintails at Izembek Lagoon. Phylogenetic analysis of 13 AIVs from Steller’s eiders revealed that 4.9% of genes were of Eurasian origin. Seven subtypes were detected, including two also observed in northern pintails. No AIV strains were highly similar (> 99%) at all gene segments between species; however, highly similar individual genes were detected. The proportion of highly similar genes was greater within rather than between species. Steller’s eiders likely transport AIV genes between continents through long-distance migratory movements. Differences in AIV prevalence, subtype distribution, and the proportion of highly similar genes suggest limited AIV exchange between Steller’s eiders and northern pintails at Alaska Peninsula coastal lagoons during autumn.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 1, 2011
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