Date of this Version
Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases 7:3 (2007), pp. 304–314.
Predicting the spatial foci of zoonotic diseases is a major challenge for epidemiologists and disease ecologists. Migratory birds are often thought to be responsible for introducing some aviozoonotic pathogens such as West Nile and avian influenza viruses to a local area, but most information on how bird movement correlates with virus prevalence is anecdotal or indirect. We report that the prevalence of Buggy Creek virus (BCRV) infection in cimicid swallow bugs (Oeciacus vicarius), the principal invertebrate vector for this virus, was directly associated with the likelihood of movement by cliff swallows (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota), an amplifying host for the virus, between nesting colonies. The prevalence of BCRV in bugs was also directly correlated with the number of swallows immigrating into a site. Birds that move into a site are often transient individuals that may have more often encountered virus elsewhere. These results indicate that the magnitude and direction of daily bird movement in a local area can accurately predict transmission foci for this virus and provide rare quantitative evidence that birds can play a critical role in the dispersal of certain vector-borne viruses.