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J Clin Virol. 2009 Sep;46(1):90-3. doi: 10.1016/j.jcv.2009.06.016. Epub 2009 Jul 14.

Identifying the species-origin of faecal droppings used for avian influenza virus surveillance in wild-birds.

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  • 1State Key Laboratory for Emerging Infectious Diseases and Department of Microbiology, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, People's Republic of China.



Avian influenza virus (AIV) surveillance in birds is important for public health. Faecal droppings from wild-birds are more readily available for such studies, but the inability to identify the species-origin of faecal samples limits their value.


To develop, optimise, and field-test a method to simultaneously detect AIV and identify the species-origin from faecal samples.


Analytical sensitivity of the species-identification RT-PCR was assessed on serial dilutions of faecal droppings. Overall sensitivity of the methods for species-identification and AIV detection was assessed on 92 faecal and cloacal samples collected from wildlife, poultry markets, and experimentally H5N1-infected birds.


All 92 samples were correctly identified to 24 different species, with a detection limit of 2.8mug of faecal material. All 20 specimens previously shown by virus culture to be positive for influenza virus were correctly identified by RT-PCR for influenza A using the same nucleic-acid extracts used for species-identification.


We have optimised and evaluated a method for identifying the species of origin and detecting AIV from bird faecal droppings that can be applied to routine surveillance of influenza viruses in wild-birds.

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