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It is increasingly acknowledged that migratory birds, notably waterfowl, play a critical role in the maintenance and spread of influenza A viruses. In order to elucidate the epidemiology of influenza A viruses in their natural hosts, a better understanding of the pathological effects in these hosts is required. Here we report on the feeding and migratory performance of wild migratory Bewick's swans (Cygnus columbianus bewickii Yarrell) naturally infected with low-pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) A viruses of subtypes H6N2 and H6N8. Using information on geolocation data collected from Global Positioning Systems fitted to neck-collars, we show that infected swans experienced delayed migration, leaving their wintering site more than a month after uninfected animals. This was correlated with infected birds travelling shorter distances and fuelling and feeding at reduced rates. The data suggest that LPAI virus infections in wild migratory birds may have higher clinical and ecological impacts than previously recognised.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere184
JournalPLoS One
Journal publication date2007

ID: 116966