West Nile virus (WNV) emerged in the Americas with its introduction in 1999 and now is considered endemic across the continent. In 2002, WNV was detected in Mexico, where its occurrence and mortality are considerably lower compared with the US. However, continuous national surveillance programs in Mexico are nonexistent. Birds are considered the primary hosts and primary geographic dispersers of this pathogen. A total of 200 cloacal and tracheal samples from wild migratory or resident birds were retrospectively analyzed using reverse transcription PCR to detect WNV from birds collected in Mexico from 2008 to 2009. The overall prevalence was 8% (16/200), and positive samples were from Oaxaca, Chiapas, and Tamaulipas in Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris), Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus), Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis), and Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura). Analysis of the partial sequence of the envelope gene from one of the samples from Oaxaca provided evidence that the virus belonged to the WN99 genotype. Taken together, these results demonstrated that WNV circulated in wild birds from northern and southern Mexico during the 2008–09 season, providing further information about the presence of WNV in Mexico.
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Vol. 55 • No. 2