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


Date of this Version



Published in AVIAN DISEASES 53:458–461, 2009.


The American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) is known to suffer 100% mortality from infection with the New York 1999 strain of West Nile virus (WNV). Following the initial detection of WNV in North America in 1999, we measured prevalence of WNV-reactive antibodies (‘‘seroprevalence”) in free-ranging American and fish crows (Corvus ossifragus) of central New Jersey after each transmission season through 2005. In 2002, seroprevalence in American crow juveniles increased to 14% from the 5% of the previous year, potentially indicating increased survival in this species. Using the annual seroprevalence measurements and the number of human West Nile neuroinvasive disease cases as a surrogate for WNV transmission intensity, we developed a model to estimate the annual WNV-associated mortality rates among both of these crow species. Our model supports the hypothesis that mortality is changing over time; the WNV-associated mortality rate declined over time by 1.5% for American crow and by 1.1% for fish crow. The probability that the trend in mortality was negative was 90% for the American crow and 60% for the fish crow.