U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 51(2), 2015, pp. 523–526


The use of serologic assays for influenza A virus (IAV) surveillance in wild birds has increased because of the availability of commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs). Recently, an H5-specific blocking ELISA (bELISA) was shown to reliably detect H5-specific antibodies to low- and highpathogenic H5 viruses in experimentally infected waterfowl. Mute Swans (Cygnus olor) were frequently associated with highly pathogenic H5N1 outbreaks in Europe and may have a similar role if highly pathogenic H5N1 is introduced into North America. We measured the prevalence of antibodies to the nucleoprotein and H5 protein in Mute Swans using three serologic assays. We collected 340 serum samples from Mute Swans in Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island, US. We detected antibodies to the IAV nucleoprotein in 66.2% (225/340) of the samples. We detected H5-specific antibodies in 62.9% (214/340) and 18.8% (64/340) using a modified H5 bELISA protocol and hemagglutination inhibition (HI) assay, respectively. The modified H5 bELISA protocol detected significantly more positive samples than did the manufacturer’s protocol. We also tested 46 samples using virus neutralization. Neutralization results had high agreement with the modified H5 bELISA protocol and detected a higher prevalence than did the HI assay. These results indicate that North American Mute Swans have high nucleoprotein and H5 antibody prevalences.

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