We investigated the prevalence of West Nile virus (WNV)-neutralizing antibodies and infectious virus, and the occurrence of overwinter transmission in two raptor species during January and March 2006 at the Salton Sea, Imperial County, California. We captured 208 American Kestrels (Falco sparverius) (January, n=100; March, n=108) and 116 Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia) (January, n=52; March, n=64). Laboratory analysis revealed that 83% of American Kestrels and 31% of Burrowing Owls were positive for WNV-neutralizing antibodies. Additionally, two seroconversions were detected in Burrowing Owls between January and March. Infectious WNV, consistent with acute infection, was not detected in any bird.
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Vol. 46 • No. 3