Gulls are the known reservoir for H13 and H16 influenza A viruses (IAV) but also host a diversity of other IAV subtypes. Gulls also share habitats with both ducks and shorebirds, increasing the potential for cross-species IAV transmission. We serologically tested laughing gulls (Leucophaeus atricilla) collected at Delaware Bay during May when they were in direct contact with IAV-infected shorebirds; both species feed on horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) eggs on beaches during this month. From 2010 to 2014, antibody prevalence as determined by competitive blocking enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay ranged from 25%–72%. Antibodies to H13 and H16 were detected by hemagglutination inhibition (HI) tests in 12% and 24% of tested gulls, respectively. Results from virus microneutralization (MN) tests for antibodies to H1–H12, H14, and H15 varied among years but the highest prevalence of neutralizing antibodies was detected against H1 (24%), H5 (25%), H6 (35%), H9 (33%), and H11 (42%) IAV. The subtype diversity identified by serology in gulls was dominated by Group 1 HA subtypes and only partially reflected the diversity of IAV subtypes isolated from shorebirds.
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Vol. 60 • No. 1s