Vector contact rates on Eastern bluebird nestlings do not indicate West Nile virus transmission in Henrico County, Virginia, USA

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2013 Nov 27;10(12):6366-79. doi: 10.3390/ijerph10126366.


Sensitive indicators of spatial and temporal variation in vector-host contact rates are critical to understanding the transmission and eventual prevention of arboviruses such as West Nile virus (WNV). Monitoring vector contact rates on particularly susceptible and perhaps more exposed avian nestlings may provide an advanced indication of local WNV amplification. To test this hypothesis we monitored WNV infection and vector contact rates among nestlings occupying nest boxes (primarily Eastern bluebirds; Sialia sialis, Turdidae) across Henrico County, Virginia, USA, from May to August 2012. Observed host-seeking rates were temporally variable and associated with absolute vector and host abundances. Despite substantial effort to monitor WNV among nestlings and mosquitoes, we did not detect the presence of WNV in these populations. Generally low vector-nestling host contact rates combined with the negative WNV infection data suggest that monitoring transmission parameters among nestling Eastern bluebirds in Henrico County, Virginia, USA may not be a sensitive indicator of WNV activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bird Diseases / epidemiology
  • Bird Diseases / transmission*
  • Bird Diseases / virology
  • Culicidae / physiology*
  • Culicidae / virology
  • Food Chain*
  • Insect Bites and Stings / veterinary*
  • Insect Vectors / physiology*
  • Insect Vectors / virology
  • Nesting Behavior
  • Population Dynamics
  • Seasons
  • Songbirds / growth & development
  • Songbirds / physiology*
  • Songbirds / virology*
  • Time Factors
  • Virginia
  • West Nile Fever / epidemiology
  • West Nile Fever / transmission
  • West Nile Fever / veterinary*