Virus surveillance in free-flying, nonmigratory ducks living on the eastern shore of Maryland indicated that influenza A viruses were introduced into the area or that the prevalence of endemic infections increased between July 15 and August 27, 1998. Cloacal swabs collected between May 28 and July 15, 1998, were negative for influenza A virus recovery (0/233), whereas 13.9% (29/209) of swabs collected between August 27 and September 2, 1998, were positive for influenza A virus recovery. Five hemagglutinin subtypes (H2, H3, H6, H9, and H12), six neuraminidase subtypes (N1, N2, N4, N5, N6, and N8), and nine HA-NA combinations were identified among 29 influenza A isolates. Interestingly, 18 of the 29 isolates initially appeared to contain two or more HA and/or NA subtypes. The free-flying, nonmigratory ducks served as excellent sentinels for the early detection of type A influenza viruses in the southern half of the Atlantic Migratory Waterfowl Flyway during the earliest phase of the yearly southern migration.
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