As compared to other Anseriformes, data related to influenza A virus (IAV) detection and isolation, and IAV antibody detection in whistling ducks (Dendrocygna spp. and Thalassornis leuconotus; subfamily Dendrocygninae) are limited. To better evaluate the potential role of whistling ducks in the epidemiology of IAV, we (1) conducted surveillance for IAV from black-bellied whistling ducks (BBWD, Dendrocygnaautumnalis) sampled in coastal Louisiana, USA, during February 2018 and 2019, and (2) reviewed the published literature and Influenza Resource Database (IRD) that reported results of IAV surveillance of whistling ducks. In the prospective study, from 166 BBWD sampled, one H10N7 IAV was isolated (0.6% prevalence), and overall blocking enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (bELISA) antibody seroprevalence was 10%. The literature review included publications and data in the IRD from 1984 to 2020 that reported results from nearly 5000 collected samples. For any given collection, the IAV isolation rate never exceeded 5.5%, and seroprevalence estimates ranged from 0 to 42%. Results from our prospective study in Louisiana are consistent with this historic literature; however, although all data consistently demonstrated a low prevalence of infection, the potential role of this species in the epidemiology of IAV should not be totally discounted. In sum, whistling ducks can be infected with IAV, they represent important species on many areas where waterfowl winter, and their distribution across the globe appears to be changing.
Keywords: Dendrocygninae; IAV; avian influenza; host; prevalence; surveillance; whistling ducks.