West Nile Virus activity in central Iowa bird populations and the utility of wildlife rehabilitation centers in monitoring wildlife disease
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Little is known about the frequency or occurrence of West Nile Virus (WNV) in many Iowa wildlife species, including birds. The lack of knowledge about WNV in Iowa birds is partially due to difficulties associated with monitoring wildlife health. We evaluated the utility of wildlife rehabilitation centers for providing information about wildlife health and disease monitoring, and assessed where on the central Iowa landscape birds have the highest risk of exposure to WNV. Our results indicated that wildlife rehabilitation facilities have the potential to provide useful information about wildlife disease presence and prevalence. Additionally, we found that a bird's risk of WNV exposure increased in urban areas, and that risk of exposure was different between years (potentially due to weather), and among taxa, where the Cardinalidae had the highest WNV seroprevalence. Overall, our findings provide insights regarding WNV activity in central Iowa bird populations.