West Nile virus antibody surveillance in three Sierra Nevada raptors of conservation concern

Joshua M. Hull, John J. Keane, Lisa A Tell, Holly B Ernest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


West Nile virus (WNV) infection has caused high levels of mortality in North American hawks and owls. To investigate the extent of infection among raptors of conservation concern in the Sierra Nevada, we tested 62 Northern Goshawks (Accipiter gentilis), 209 Spotted Owls (Strix occidentalis), and 22 Great Gray Owls (Strix nebulosa) for WNV antibodies during the summers of 2004 to 2007 and compared our results with avian WNV mortalities detected by the California Department of Public health. We detected no antibodies to WNV among the individuals tested. During the same period WNV RNA was detected in dead birds from 26 species in the Sierra Nevada region. These results suggest that the populations we studied were not exposed, that the level of WNV infection was so low as to be undetectable by our sampling scheme, or that the mortality rate from WNV was high enough to leave no surviving individuals; there is no independent evidence of the last alternative.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)168-172
Number of pages5
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Accipiter gentilis
  • Antibody
  • Flavivirus
  • Sierra Nevada
  • Strix nebulosa
  • Strix occidentalis
  • West Nile virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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