Wild waterfowl are primary reservoirs of avian influenza viruses (AIV). However the role of sea ducks in the ecology of avian influenza, and how that role differs from freshwater ducks, has not been examined. We obtained and analyzed sera from North Atlantic sea ducks and determined the seroprevalence in those populations. We also tested swab samples from North Atlantic sea ducks for the presence of AIV. We found relatively high serological prevalence (61%) in these sea duck populations but low virus prevalence (0.3%). Using these data we estimated that an antibody half-life of 141 weeks (3.2 years) would be required to attain these prevalences. These findings are much different than what is known in freshwater waterfowl and have implications for surveillance efforts, AIV in marine environments, and the roles of sea ducks and other long-lived waterfowl in avian influenza ecology.
Hall, J. S., Russell, R. E., Franson, J. C., Soos, C., Dusek, R. J., Allen, R. B., … Brown, J. D. (2015). Avian influenza ecology in north atlantic sea ducks: Not all ducks are created equal. PLoS ONE, 10(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0144524