Avian Influenza among Waterfowl Hunters and Wildlife Professionals

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Tuesday, August 1, 2006
James S. Gill
Richard Webby
Mary JR Gilchrist
Gregory C. Gray
Journal Title: 
Emerging Infectious Diseases

We report serologic evidence of avian influenza infection in 1 duck hunter and 2 wildlife professionals with extensive histories of wild waterfowl and game bird exposure. Two laboratory methods showed evidence of past infection with influenza A/H11N9, a less common virus strain in wild ducks, in these 3 persons.

Wild ducks, geese, and shorebirds are the natural reservoir for influenza A virus (); all 16 hemagglutinin (H) and 9 neuraminidase (N) subtypes are found in these wild birds (,). Recently, the rapid spread of influenza A/H5N1 virus to new geographic regions, possibly by migrating waterfowl, has caused concern among public health officials who fear an influenza pandemic. Until now, serologic studies of the transmission of subtype H5N1 and other highly pathogenic strains of avian influenza have focused on humans who have contact with infected domestic poultry (,). In this cross-sectional seroprevalence study, we provide evidence of past influenza A/H11 infection in persons who were routinely, heavily exposed to wild ducks and geese through recreational activities (duck hunting) or through their employment (bird banding). To our knowledge, this study is the first to show direct transmission of influenza A viruses from wild birds to humans.


Gill, James S., Richard Webby, Mary JR Gilchrist, and Gregory C. Gray. "Avian influenza among waterfowl hunters and wildlife professionals." Emerging infectious diseases 12, no. 8 (2006): 1284. DOI: 10.3201/eid1208.060492