Detection of Wellfleet bay virus antibodies in sea birds of the northeastern USA

Jennifer R. Ballard, Randall Mickley, Justin D. Brown, Nichola J. Hill, Jonathan A. Runstadler, Daniel E. Clark, Julie C. Ellis, Daniel G. Mead, John R. Fischer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Wellfleet Bay virus (WFBV) is a recently described orthomyxovirus isolated from the tissues of Common Eiders (Somateria mollis-sima) collected during recurrent mortality events on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, US. Coastal Massachusetts is the only location where disease or mortality associated with this virus has been detected in wild birds, and a previous seroprevalence study found a significantly higher frequency of viral exposure in eiders from this location than from other areas sampled in North America. This suggests that coastal Massachusetts is an epicenter of WFBV exposure, but the reason for this is unknown. Opportunistic sampling of sympatric species and testing of banked serum was used to investigate potential host range and spatiotemporal patterns of WFBV exposure. Antibodies were detected in Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus), Ring-billed Gulls (Larus delawaren-sis), a White-winged Scoter (Melanitta fusca), and a Black Scoter (Melanitta nigra). These findings demonstrate the likely occurrence of fall/winter transmission, expand our understanding of the host range of the virus, and provide further insight into the epidemiology of WFBV in the northeastern US.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)875-879
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of wildlife diseases
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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