West Nile virus (WNV) causes sporadic outbreaks of human encephalitis in Phoenix, Arizona. To identify amplifying hosts of WNV in the Phoenix area, we blood-sampled resident birds and measured antibody prevalence following an outbreak in the East Valley of metropolitan Phoenix during summer, 2010. House sparrow (Passer domesticus), house finch (Haemorhous mexicanus), great-tailed grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus), and mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) accounted for most WNV infections among locally resident birds. These species roost communally after early summer breeding. In September 2010, Culex vector-avian host contact was 3-fold greater at communal bird roosts compared with control sites, as determined by densities of resting mosquitoes with previous vertebrate contact (i.e., blood-engorged or gravid mosquitoes). Because of the low competence of mourning doves, these were considered weak amplifiers but potentially effective free-ranging sentinels. Highly competent sparrows, finches, and grackles were predicted to be key amplifying hosts for WNV in suburban Phoenix.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases