Sentinel pigeons, Columba livia, were installed in lard-can traps at heights of 1.5 m and 7.6–9.1 m within differing canopy cover classes in New York City. Adult mosquitoes were collected weekly from July to October 2002, as were serum samples from each pigeon. Culex pipiens L. and Culex restuans Theobald comprised 97% of mosquitoes collected and were most numerous in canopy-level, forested traps. The West Nile virus (family Flaviviridae, genus Flavivirus, WNV) seroconversion rate was significantly greater for pigeons in canopy-level traps, although seroconversions occurred concurrently with human cases in the city and were of little prognostic value to public health agencies. Our results indicate that sentinel pigeons were most effective for monitoring enzootic transmission of WNV when placed in single-sentinel caging 7.6–9.1 m above ground level.
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Vol. 42 • No. 6