Wild bird mortality and West Nile virus surveillance
Ward, Marsha Rebekah
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Surveillance of dead wild birds is useful for early detection of West Nile virus (WNV) activity. Objectives of this project were to assess detection, reporting, persistence, and fate of dead birds in relation to WNV surveillance programs in Georgia. The project assessed detection and reporting of dead crows (decoy surrogates) within urban and rural environments of DeKalb County, a location with an intensive dead bird surveillance system. Both detection and reporting were higher in the urban area. The project also assessed persistence and fate of American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) and house sparrow (Passer domesticus) carcasses within similar urban and rural environments. Carcass species, environmental category, and exposure duration affected carcass persistence. Species composition of scavengers was similar in urban and rural areas but “scavenging pressure” was greater in rural areas. This information was related to interpretation of wild bird WNV surveillance data and the potential for WNV exposure among scavengers.