West Nile virus antibodies in permanent resident and overwintering migrant birds in South-central Kansas

Thomas R. Shelite, Christopher M. Rogers, Brandon R. Litzner, R. Roy Johnson, Mark A. Schneegurt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


We conducted serological studies, using epitope-blocking ELISAs directed at West Nile virus (WNV) and flavivirus antibodies, of wild birds in south-central Kansas, the first for this state, in the winters of 2003-04 through 2005-06. Overwintering migratory species (primarily the American tree sparrow and dark-eyed junco) consistently showed significantly lower seropositivity than permanent residents (primarily the northern cardinal). The cardinal showed annual variation in seropositivity between winters. Of 35 birds that were serial sampled within a single winter, one cardinal may have seroconverted between late December and mid-February, providing a preliminary suggestion of continued enzootic transmission, chronic infection, or bird-bird transfer as overwintering mechanisms. Breeding population size of the cardinal did not change after the introduction of WNV to Kansas. Of eighteen birds that were serial sampled between winters, none seroconverted. Among overwintering migrants, the Harris' Sparrow showed the highest seropositivity, possibly related to its migration route through the central Great Plains, an area of recent high WNV activity. The finding that permanent resident birds exhibit higher seropositivity than migrant birds suggests that resident birds contribute to the initiation of annual infection cycles, although this conclusion is speculative in the absence of data on viral titers and the length of viremia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-329
Number of pages9
JournalVector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2008


  • Birds
  • Epitope-blocking ELISA
  • Flavivirus
  • West Nile Virus
  • Winter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology
  • Microbiology


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