Avian influenza virus surveillance in hunter-harvested waterfowl, Texas coast, September 2009-January 2010.
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Wild waterfowl are considered the natural reservoir of type A influenza viruses, and the migratory nature of many waterfowl species presents a possible vehicle for global dissemination of these infectious agents. In order to fully understand the ecology of influenza viruses, multiyear surveillance efforts are critical, particularly in understudied areas, such as waterfowl wintering areas. Herein we report results obtained during the fifth year ofa 5-yr avian influenza virus (AIV) surveillance project conducted on waterfowl wintering grounds of the Texas Coast. During year 5, the 2009-2010 hunting season (September, November-January), 655 cloacal swabs were collected from hunter-harvested waterfowl and screened for AIV by real-time RT-PCR (rRT-PCR) followed by virus isolation on all positive samples. Molecular methods were used for subtyping all AIV isolates. Sixty-five (9.5%) samples were positive for AIV by rRT-PCR, and 24 (3.7%) AIVs were isolated. Eight different hemagglutinin (H3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, and 11) and seven different neuraminidase (N1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, and 9) subtypes were identified. This was the first year H8 and H9 were isolated throughout the 5-yr survey. Our results support the fact that continued multiyear surveillance of natural reservoirs, particularly in understudied areas, is needed in order to better understand the ecology of AIVs in nature.