Are Iowans Exposed to Wild Ducks, Geese, and Game Birds at Risk of Avian Influenza Infections?

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Project Period: 
Project Investigator(s): 
J. Gill, University Hygienic Laboratory, G. Gray, Sharon Setterquist, College of Public Health, University of Iowa

The recent explosive epidemic of avian influenza in Asia has many public health officials concerned. Iowans have numerous occupational and recreational exposures to avian species that might cause them to be infected with avian influenza viruses, yet they have never been studied. We propose a pilot seroprevalence study of 250 Iowans with exposure to ducks, geese, and game birds to investigate such transmission. After informed consent is obtained, DNR workers, hunters, and others with game bird exposure will be asked to complete a risk factor questionnaire, and to permit the collection of at least one serum sample. We will also collect cloacal or tracheal samples from 390 of their birds. Human serological testing and bird viral cultures will be performed to document Iowans at high risk of avian influenza virus infection. Identifying high-risk individuals and their exposures is a first step towards developing public health interventions to protect against such future infections.


Gill J, Webby R, Gilchrist M, Gray G; Avian influenza among waterfowl hunters and wildlife professionals. Emerg Infect Dis ; 2006; 12(8):1284-1286