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


Date of this Version

October 2006


Published by VECTOR-BORNE AND ZOONOTIC DISEASES Volume 6, Number 3, 2006. Copyright Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.


This study was designed to explore the role that red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) may have played in disseminating West Nile virus (WNV) across the United States. Using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays designed to detect WNV antibodies in avian species we were able to determine the WNV antibody prevalence in a cohort of red-winged blackbirds in central North Dakota in 2003 and 2004. The peak WNV antibody prevalence was 22.0% in August of 2003 and 18.3% in July of 2004. The results of this study suggest that red-winged blackbird migratory populations may be an important viral dispersal mechanism with the ability to spread arboviruses such as WNV across the United States. Key Words: West Nile virus-Red-winged blackbirds-North Dakota.