Author(s): Ratanakorn P, Wiratsudakul A, Wiriyarat W, Eiamampai K, Farmer AH,
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Abstract Brown-headed gulls (Larus brunnicephalus), winter visitors of Thailand, were tracked by satellite telemetry during 2008-2011 for investigating their roles in the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 virus spread. Eight gulls negative for influenza virus infection were marked with solar-powered satellite platform transmitters at Bang Poo study site in Samut Prakarn province, Thailand; their movements were monitored by the Argos satellite tracking system, and locations were mapped. Five gulls completed their migratory cycles, which spanned 7 countries (China, Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam) affected by the HPAI H5N1 virus. Gulls migrated from their breeding grounds in China to stay overwinter in Thailand and Cambodia; while Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, and Vietnam were the places of stopovers during migration. Gulls traveled an average distance of about 2400 km between Thailand and China and spent 1-2 weeks on migration. Although AI surveillance among gulls was conducted at the study site, no AI virus was isolated and no H5N1 viral genome or specific antibody was detected in the 75 gulls tested, but 6.6\% of blood samples were positive for pan-influenza A antibody. No AI outbreaks were reported in areas along flyways of gulls in Thailand during the study period. Distance and duration of migration, tolerability of the captive gulls to survive the HPAI H5N1 virus challenge and days at viral shedding after the virus challenging suggested that the Brown-headed gull could be a potential species for AI spread, especially among Southeast Asian countries, the epicenter of H5N1 AI outbreak.
This article was published in PLoS One
and referenced in Journal of Tropical Diseases & Public Health