Alaska Science Center
Gulls are a common reservoir species for avian influenza viruses and have been a high priority species to sample for pathogens because populations in western Alaska are thought to migrate to Asia for winter and thus have connections with outbreak areas of highly pathogenic avian influenza. However, little is known about the migratory routes of gulls from northern and western Alaska. Additionally, gulls are scavengers of dead animals and at landfills and may thus be a disease dispersal species, moving pathogens between wildlife and human environments. The USGS Alaska Science Center is examining the prevalence and diversity of avian influenza in gulls each year through surveillance sampling. Research is also examining how other marine birds may play a role in the maintenance and dispersal of avian influenza viruses.
Ramey, A. M., J. M. Pearce, C. R. Ely, L. M. Sheffield Guy, D. B. Irons, D. V. Derksen, and H. S. Ip. 2010. Transmission and reassortment of avian influenza viruses at the Asian - North American interface. Virology 406(2):352-359. doi:10.1016/j.virol.2010.07.031 [Details] [Full Publication]