SUMMARY. An adenovirus was isolated from intestinal samples of two long-tailed ducks (Clangula hyemalis) collected during a die-off in the Beaufort Sea off the north coast of Alaska in 2000. The virus was not neutralized by reference antiserum against known group I, II, or III avian adenoviruses and may represent a new serotype. The prevalence of the virus was determined in live-trapped long-tailed ducks at the mortality site and at a reference site 100 km away where no mortality was observed. Prevalence of adenovirus antibodies in serum samples at the mortality site was 86% compared to 10% at the reference site. Furthermore, 50% of cloacal swabs collected at the mortality site and only 7% of swabs from the reference site were positive for adenoviruses. In 2001, no mortality was observed at either of the study areas, and virus prevalence in both serum and cloacal samples was low, providing further evidence that the adenovirus was linked to the mortality event in 2000. The virus was used to infect long-tailed ducks under experimental conditions and resulted in lesions previously described for avian adenovirus infections and similar to those observed in long-tailed duck carcasses from the Beaufort Sea. The status of long-tailed ducks has recently become a concern in Alaska due to precipitous declines in breeding populations there since the mid-1970s. Our findings suggest that the newly isolated adenovirus is a disease agent and source of mortality in long-tailed ducks, and thus could be a contributing factor in population declines.
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Vol. 47 • No. 4