Volume 76, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


We tested 1,549 avian carcasses of 104 species to identify targets for West Nile virus (WNV) surveillance in Colorado, determine species affected by WNV, compare virus isolation versus RNA detection applied to hearts and oral swabs from carcasses, and compare the VecTest WNV Antigen Assay (VecTest) to standard assays. Forty-two species tested positive. From June to September 2003, 86% of corvids, 34% of non-corvid passerines, and 37% of raptors tested positive. We developed the Target Species Index, which identified American crows as the most important avian indicator species. However, testing multiple species maximizes detection, which may be important early and late in the transmission season. This index may benefit surveillance for other zoonotic pathogens, such as highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 virus. VecTest using oral swabs was most sensitive for American crow, black-billed magpie, house finch, house sparrow, and American kestrel. Wildlife rehabilitation centers should be recruited to enhance WNV surveillance.


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  • Received : 12 Jun 2006
  • Accepted : 14 Nov 2006

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