Avian influenza viruses (AIV) affect many species of birds including waterfowl and may persist in sediment in aquatic habitats. Sediment samples were collected from two areas representative of prime migration and overwintering waterfowl habitat in Dorchester County, Maryland in the fall and winter of 2013–2014. Samples were screened for the presence of AIV via reverse transcriptase–quantitative PCR targeting the matrix gene. Although 13.6% of sediment samples were positive for the AIV matrix gene across all collection dates and locations, differences in detection were noted with location and collection season. Percentage of AIV-positive sediment samples recovered corresponded to trends in waterfowl abundance at collection sites both temporally and spatially. These findings provide further support for the assertion that the presence of AIV in the aquatic environment is likely affected by the total number, site-specific density, and array of waterfowl species.
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Vol. 61 • No. 4