Low pathogenic avian influenza virus can mutate to a highly pathogenic strain that causes severe clinical signs in birds and humans. Migratory waterfowl, especially ducks, are considered the main hosts of low pathogenic avian influenza virus, but the role of geese in dispersing the virus over long-distances is still unclear. We collected throat and cloaca samples from three goose species, Bean goose (Anser fabalis), Barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis) and Greater white-fronted goose (Anser albifrons), from their breeding grounds, spring stopover sites, and wintering grounds. We tested if the geese were infected with low pathogenic avian influenza virus outside of their wintering grounds, and analysed the spatial and temporal patterns of infection prevalence on their wintering grounds. Our results show that geese were not infected before their arrival on wintering grounds. Barnacle geese and Greater white-fronted geese had low prevalence of infection just after their arrival on wintering grounds in the Netherlands, but the prevalence increased in successive months, and peaked after December. This suggests that migratory geese are exposed to the virus after their arrival on wintering grounds, indicating that migratory geese might not disperse low pathogenic avian influenza virus during autumn migration.

doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0177790, hdl.handle.net/1765/100456
Department of Virology

Yin, S. (Shenglai), Kleijn, D., Müskens, G.J.D.M. (Gerard J. D. M.), Fouchier, R., Verhagen, J., Glazov, P.M. (Petr M.), … De Boer, W.F. (Willem Frederik). (2017). No evidence that migratory geese disperse avian influenza viruses from breeding to wintering ground. PLoS ONE, 12(5). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0177790