To gain insight into avian influenza virus (AIV) transmission, exposure, and maintenance patterns in shorebirds at Delaware Bay during spring migration, we examined temporal AIV prevalence trends in four Charadriiformes species with the use of serial cross-sectional data from 2000 through 2008 and generalized linear and additive models. Prevalence of AIV in Ruddy Turnstones (Arenaria interpres morinella) increased after arrival, peaked in mid-late May, and decreased prior to departure. Antibody prevalence also increased over this period; together, these results suggested local infection and recovery prior to departure. Red Knots (Calidris canutus rufa), Sanderlings (Calidris alba), and Laughing Gulls (Leucophaeus atricilla) were rarely infected, but dynamic changes in antibody prevalence differed among species. In Red Knots, declining antibody prevalence over the stopover period suggested AIV exposure prior to arrival at Delaware Bay with limited infection at this site. Antibody prevalence was consistently high in Laughing Gulls and low in Sanderlings. Both viral prevalence and antibody prevalence in Sanderlings varied directly with those in turnstones, suggesting virus spillover to Sanderlings. Results indicate that, although hundreds of thousands of birds concentrate at Delaware Bay during spring, dynamics of AIV infection differ among species, perhaps due to differences in susceptibility, potential for contact with AIV at this site, or prior exposure. Additionally, Ruddy Turnstones possibly act as a local AIV amplifying host rather than a reservoir.
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Vol. 48 • No. 2