Waterfowl species are known to harbor the greatest diversity of low pathogenicity influenza A virus (LPAIV) subtypes and are recognized as their main natural reservoir. In Guatemala there is evidence of circulation of LPAIV in wild ducks; however, the bird species contributing to viral diversity during the winter migration in Central America are unknown. In this study, samples obtained from 1250 hunter-killed birds from 22 different species were collected on the Pacific coast of Guatemala during three winter migration seasons between 2010 and 2013. Prevalence of LPAIV detected by real-time reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction was 38.2%, 23.5%, and 24.7% in the 2010–11, 2011–12, and 2012–13 seasons, respectively. The highest virus prevalence was detected in the northern shoveler (Anas clypeata), followed by the blue-winged teal (Anas discors). The majority of positive samples and viral isolates were obtained from the blue-winged teal. Analysis of LPAIV prevalence over time in this species indicated a decreasing trend in monthly prevalence within a migration season. Sixty-eight viruses were isolated, and nine HA and seven NA subtypes were identified in 19 subtype combinations. In 2012–13 the most prevalent subtype was H14, a subtype identified for the first time in the Western Hemisphere in 2010. The results from this study represent the most detailed description available to date of LPAIV circulation in Central America.
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Vol. 60 • No. 1s