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Surveillance of Wild Birds for Avian Influenza Virus | CDC EID

EID Journal Home > Volume 16, Number 12–December 2010
Volume 16, Number 12–December 2010
Surveillance of Wild Birds for Avian Influenza Virus

Bethany J. Hoye, Comments to Author Vincent J. Munster, Hiroshi Nishiura, Marcel Klaassen, and Ron A.M. Fouchier
Author affiliations: Netherlands Institute for Ecology, Nieuwersluis, the Netherlands (B.J. Hoye, M. Klaassen); Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, the Netherlands (V.J. Munster, R.A.M. Fouchier); National Institute of Health, Hamilton, Montana, USA (V.J. Munster); University of Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherlands (H. Nishiura); Japan Science and Technology Agency, Saitama, Japan (H. Nishiura); and Deakin University, Waurn Ponds, Victoria, Australia (M. Klaassen)

Suggested citation for this article

Recent demand for increased understanding of avian influenza virus in its natural hosts, together with the development of high-throughput diagnostics, has heralded a new era in wildlife disease surveillance. However, survey design, sampling, and interpretation in the context of host populations still present major challenges. We critically reviewed current surveillance to distill a series of considerations pertinent to avian influenza virus surveillance in wild birds, including consideration of what, when, where, and how many to sample in the context of survey objectives. Recognizing that wildlife disease surveillance is logistically and financially constrained, we discuss pragmatic alternatives for achieving probability-based sampling schemes that capture this host–pathogen system. We recommend hypothesis-driven surveillance through standardized, local surveys that are, in turn, strategically compiled over broad geographic areas. Rethinking the use of existing surveillance infrastructure can thereby greatly enhance our global understanding of avian influenza and other zoonotic diseases.

Avian influenza virus (AIV) gained a high profile after the unprecedented bird-to-human transmission of highly pathogenic AIV (HPAIV) subtype H5N1 in 1997. Originating in Asia, HPAIV (H5N1) subsequently caused widespread deaths among wild and domestic birds in Southeast Asia and westward throughout Europe and Africa in 2005 and 2006. After ≈50 years of research in wild birds, a wide range of low-pathogenicity AIV (LPAIV) subtypes is known to circulate in numerous species (1,2–5), and LPAIVs are believed to perpetuate in aquatic bird populations (6). In contrast, outbreaks of HPAIV are extremely rare in wild birds (7). Although the role of wild birds in HPAIV maintenance remains controversial (8), the magnitude of the subtype H5N1 epidemics increased the demand for early recognition of potential threats to humans and poultry and an understanding of the natural history of AIV in wild birds. Consequently, surveillance of aquatic bird populations surged (9).

Although surveillance for AIV often uses state-of-the-art storage, transport and diagnostics, these must be underpinned by appropriate survey design, sampling, and interpretation in the context of the host population. In the wake of such rapid growth in surveillance, we reviewed the literature to determine a scientifically and statistically sound approach to the design, conduct, and interpretation of surveillance for AIV and other wildlife diseases.

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Surveillance of Wild Birds for Avian Influenza Virus | CDC EID

Suggested Citation for this Article

Hoye BJ, Munster VJ, Nishiura H, Klaassen M, Fouchier RAM. Surveillance of wild birds for avian influenza virus. Emerg Infect Dis [serial on the Internet]. 2010 Dec [date cited].

DOI: 10.3201/eid1612.100589

Comments to the Authors

Please use the form below to submit correspondence to the authors or contact them at the following address:

Bethany J. Hoye, Netherlands Institute for Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), Rijksstraatweg 6, 3631 AC Nieuwersluis, the Netherlands; email:

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