European starlings and experimental infection. Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses 5(4), 268-275 Background European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) are common, widely distributed birds in North America that frequently come into contact with agricultural operations. However, starlings have been one of the neglected land-based wild bird species for influenza surveillance. Objectives To study the potential role of starlings in the ecology and epidemiology of influenza virus. Methods We collected 328 digestive and 156 tracheal samples from starlings in Ohio in years 2007 (July) to 2008 (August) and screened for the presence of influenza virus by real-time RT-PCR, standard RT-PCR and virus isolation using embryonated chicken eggs. In addition, we conducted an experimental infection study to evaluate the replication and induction of antibody response by two low pathogenic avian influenza (AI) viruses in starlings. Results Although virus isolation was negative, we confirmed 21 influenza positive digestive and tracheal samples by real-time and standard RT-PCR tests. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that five NS genes recovered from Starlings belonged to NS subtype A and were most similar to the NS genes from a wild aquatic bird origin isolate from Ohio. Experimental infection studies using two low pathogenic AI strains showed that starlings could be infected, shed virus, and seroconvert. Conclusions This study shows that starlings can carry influenza virus that is genetically similar to wild aquatic bird origin strains and may serve as a carrier of influenza virus to domestic animals.
- European starling
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases