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Viruses. 2019 Aug 5;11(8). pii: E716. doi: 10.3390/v11080716.

Usefulness of Eurasian Magpies (Pica pica) for West Nile virus Surveillance in Non-Endemic and Endemic Situations.

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IRTA, Centre de Recerca en Sanitat Animal (CReSA IRTA-UAB), 08193 Bellaterra, Spain.
Servei de Vigilància i Control de Plagues Urbanes, Agencia de Salud Pública de Barcelona, 08023 Barcelona, Spain.
CIBER Epidemiologia y Salud Pública, CIBERESP, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, 28029 Madrid, Spain.
Departament de Territori i Sostenibilitat, Centre de Fauna de Vallcalent, Lleida 25199, Spain.
Laboratorio Central de Veterinaria, Ministerio de Agricultura, Pesca y Alimentación (MAPA), 28110 Algete (Madrid), Spain.
Departament d'Agricultura, Ramaderia, Pesca i Alimentació Generalitat de Catalunya, Servei de Prevenció en Salut Animal, 08007 Barcelona, Spain.
IRTA, Centre de Recerca en Sanitat Animal (CReSA IRTA-UAB), 08193 Bellaterra, Spain.


: In September 2017, passive surveillance allowed the detection of West Nile virus (WNV) lineage 2 for the first time in northern Spain in a northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis). However, a cross sectional study carried out in Eurasian magpies (Pica pica) in a nearby area evidenced that WNV had been circulating two months earlier. Therefore, active surveillance in Eurasian magpies proved its effectiveness for the early detection of WNV in a non-endemic area. Further surveys in 2018 and the beginning of 2019 using young magpies (i.e., born after 2017) showed the repeated circulation of WNV in the same region in the following transmission season. Therefore, active surveillance in Eurasian magpies as well proved to be useful for the detection of WNV circulation in areas that may be considered as endemic. In this manuscript we present the results of those studies and discuss reasons that make the Eurasian magpies an ideal species for the surveillance of WNV, both in endemic and non-endemic areas.


Eurasian magpies; West Nile virus; sentinels; surveillance; wild birds

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